Science Daily has new research that shows people sense salt differently. Genes play a role in what healthy food tastes like to supertasters:
The research involved 87 carefully screened participants who sampled salty foods such as broth, chips and pretzels, on multiple occasions, spread out over weeks. Test subjects were 45 men and 42 women, reportedly healthy, ranging in age from 20 to 40 years. The sample was composed of individuals who were not actively modifying their dietary intake and did not smoke cigarettes. They rated the intensity of taste on a commonly used scientific scale, ranging from barely detectable to strongest sensation of any kind.
“Most of us like the taste of salt. However, some individuals eat more salt, both because they like the taste of saltiness more, and also because it is needed to block other unpleasant tastes in food,” said [Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences food scientist John] Hayes. “Supertasters, people who experience tastes more intensely, consume more salt than do nontasters. Snack foods have saltiness as their primary flavor, and at least for these foods, more is better, so the supertasters seem to like them more.”
However, supertasters also need higher levels of salt to block unpleasant bitter tastes in foods such as cheese, Hayes noted. “For example, cheese is a wonderful blend of dairy flavors from fermented milk, but also bitter tastes from ripening that are blocked by salt,” he said. “A supertaster finds low-salt cheese unpleasant because the bitterness is too pronounced.”
The findings might affect the way we produce (and consume) low-sodium food.