High salt intake. Sensory and behavioral factors.
Salt (NaCl) is a ubiquitous component of diets in developed countries. A major reason for this is that people judge many salted foods as more palatable than the same foods without salt. Because recent evidence indicates that an acceptable salt substitute is unlikely, an understanding of the behavioral and sensory factors involved in maintaining high salt preference is a prerequisite to successful programs aimed at reducing intake. Although little evidence exists for a genetic determination of individual differences in consumption and preferred level of salt, more research in this area is necessary. Considerable data support the view that the optimal level of salt in the diet is determined in part by the level an individual is currently consuming; increasing or decreasing customary salt intake, as long as the salt is tasted, increases or decreases the preferred level of salt in food. Although these data are consistent with a hypothesis that optimal salt preferences are learned, other data, from both animal models and human developmental studies, suggest that salt preference has an innate component. Furthermore, early experience with low or high salt diets may have a long-term impact on preferred salt levels. Liking for salt, similar to liking for sweets, has an innate basis that can be modified by individual experience.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association