Genetics Alter Our Sensitivity to Salt

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., June 16 (UPI) — U.S. food scientists say genetic differences might make it more difficult for some people to maintain low-salt food diets.

Pennsylvania State University Assistant Professor John Hayes, who led the study, says our genes determine the levels of salt we like to eat. And that finding is important, Hayes said, because recent efforts by food producers to reduce the salt content in their products have left many people struggling to accept fare that does not taste as good to them as it does to others.

The research involved 87 people who sampled salty foods such as broth, chips and pretzels during a period of weeks. The participants rated the intensity of taste on a commonly used scientific scale, ranging from barely detectable to strongest sensation of any kind.

“Some people, called supertasters, describe bitter compounds as being extremely bitter, while others, called non-tasters, find these same bitter compounds to be tasteless or only weakly bitter, Hayes said. “Individuals who experience more bitterness also perceive more saltiness in table salt, more sweetness from table sugar, more burn from chili peppers and more tingle from carbonated drinks.”

Hanon-tasters may be more likely to add salt to foods because they need more salt to reach the same level of perceived saltiness as a supertaster. Others, he said, add salt to block unpleasant tastes in food.

The study that included Professor Valerie Duffy and researcher Bridget Sullivan appears in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Categorized | Other
Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.