Keeping the taste, reducing the salt

Keeping the taste, reducing the salt
While humans need the salt in snacks like potato chips, Americans consume significantly more salt than is necessary or even healthy. Credit: Public Domain

Washington State University researchers have found a way to make food taste salty but with less of the sodium chloride tied to poor health.

"It's a stealth approach, not like buying the 'reduced ' option, which people generally don't like," said Carolyn Ross, a Food Science professor at WSU. "If we can stair-step people down, then we increase health while still making food that people want to eat."

In a paper published in the Journal of Food Science, Ross and colleagues looked at salt blends that use less sodium chloride and include other salts like calcium chloride and .

Both of those salts have no on people, Ross said. Potassium can actually help reduce blood pressure. Unfortunately, they aren't very tasty.

"Potassium chloride, especially, tastes really bitter and people really don't like it," Ross said.

The researchers used tasting panels and WSU's electronic tongue to see just how much they could add of the replacement salts for standard sodium chloride before people found the food unacceptable to eat.

Some tasting panels tested a variety of salt solutions, or salt in water, while others tested different salt combinations in tomato soup.

Keeping the taste, reducing the salt
Carolyn Ross Credit: WSU

Using the e-tongue and panels, they found that a blend using approximately 96.4 percent sodium chloride with 1.6 percent potassium chloride and 2 percent calcium chloride was the ideal reduction.

They had a higher reduction when they added only calcium chloride, getting acceptable rates with a combination of 78 percent sodium chloride and 22 percent .

"This combination of the two salts did not significantly differ compared to 100 percent ," Ross said. "But when we added potassium chloride, consumer acceptance decreased."

While humans need salt, Americans consume significantly more than is necessary or even healthy. According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the recommended maximum amount of salt consumed per day is less than 2,300 mg. The average American adult female consumes 2,980 mg per day, while males average over 4,000 mg per day.

Recent findings have suggested that gradual reductions in salt over a period of years is the best way to reduce salt consumption. Using one of the new blends for a specified time frame could lead to greater reductions down the road.

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More information: Sasha M. Barnett et al, Identification of a Salt Blend: Application of the Electronic Tongue, Consumer Evaluation, and Mixture Design Methodology, Journal of Food Science (2019). DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.14440
Journal information: Journal of Food Science

Citation: Keeping the taste, reducing the salt (2019, April 11) retrieved 15 September 2019 from
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Apr 11, 2019
It is widely believed that all potassium salts have a strong and unpleasant taste. This is probably one of the reasons why many experts do not consider potassium supplements a practical or desirable way of increasing potassium intake.

A potassium gluconate solution has a mild taste. I don't know of any research about this, but 8.2% potassium gluconate solution, which is 1.37% potassium, tastes about as salty as a 0.5% sodium chloride solution. The US RDA for potassium is 4.7 grams.

Four 45ml drinks of this a day provides 2.4 grams of potassium. I am not a doctor etc. etc. Some people should not take potassium supplements. Sudden increases in potassium ingestion can disturb the heart, so it is best to ramp up over several weeks.


Apr 12, 2019
the recommended maximum amount of salt consumed per day is less than 2,300 mg.

That's actually the minimum healthy amount for the average person. There appears to be no credible evidence that having less is more healthy, and having too little is actually harmful - especially for the elderly who develop symptoms similar to dementia.


In a 2011 study, 28,800 subjects with high blood pressure ages 55 and older were analyzed for almost five years. Their risk of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and death from heart disease increased significantly when they consumed more than 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day or consumed less than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day. As lower sodium levels decrease, triglyceride levels increase, which leads to increased insulin resistance and thus increased risk of heart disease.

Apr 12, 2019
Using one of the new blends for a specified time frame could lead to greater reductions down the road.

If it tastes just as salty, then it's just maintaining people's taste for excess salt. Reducing sodium levels by a couple percents on a population level doesn't do much, when the problems are caused by individual overconsumption, not by the average levels which are already within the healthy range.

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