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Salt and Your Taste Buds

Salt and Your Taste Buds

You may have heard that on average “over 75% of the sodium (a component of salt) that we eat comes from processed foods.”  If you are good at math, you might think that this is a rather large proportion and conclude that a pretty direct way to reduce your sodium intake is to eat fewer processed foods. I would agree with you on that point. But what if you are amongst the majority who find processed foods to be pretty convenient, tasty and incorporate them into many of the meals you eat with your family? Wouldn’t it be easier if the food processors just stopped adding salt to their food products, or at least added much less than they do now?

If only it were so simple. In addition to playing an important role in food preservation, salt plays a significant role influencing the flavour of foods. Taste tests have found that added salt influences the flavour of foods by:

  • Enhancing sweet tastes
  • Improving the intensity and balance of overall flavour
  • Increasing the sense of fullness and mouth feel
  • Increasing the taste of saltiness
  • Masking bitter tastes

When food processors reduce the amount of salt that is added to food products the flavours may change as a result. One of the challenges faced by food processors is to create food products that have less added salt but still taste good to a society that is used to a high sodium diet. While food processors continue to look for solutions to this challenge you can take steps to reduce the amount of sodium in the foods that your family eats. I would love to hear what steps your family has taken to lower the amount of sodium in family meals.

~ Dean

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