Mommy Can I Have More Salt

Salt taste related to dietary experience in infants

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Do you find that you're naturally inclined to dump salt on your food before even tasting it? Or perhaps you find that you rarely reach for the salt shaker? It may be a natural predisposition developed from exposure to sodium.

Individuals tend to develop their preference for salt, at least in part, by their experiences with sodium-rich foods as infants and young children.

"Lower your consumption of processed foods, which tend to be high in sodium."

Leslie J. Stein from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, initiated the study because little was known about how individuals come to accept the taste of salty foods, and she suspected it could be a preference that was developed very young.

Consuming too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke.

During the randomized double-blind study researchers exposed 61 infants to two concentrations of salt solution and water to test their responses at both two months of age and six months old. They measured acceptance by calculating sodium intake relative to the amount of water, allowing them to examine the function of starchy table foods, a significant sodium source.

Researchers also questioned the mothers of the infants about the dietary exposure of the infants through a yes/no questionnaire. As a control, similar comparisons were made to fruit table foods.

Researchers brought back 26 of the infants when they were between 36 months old and 48 months old to assess their salt preference.

Investigators found that the dietary experience of the infants was related to salt acceptance with only the infants exposed to starchy table foods preferring salty solution at six months of age.

Infants that ate starchy table foods at six months of age were more likely to lick salt from the surface of foods at preschool age and tended to be more likely to eat plain salt. The fruit exposure was not linked to a preference for salt.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Review Date: 
December 21, 2011
Last Updated:
December 21, 2011