When snacks are laid out, do you find yourself reaching for the salted nuts and potato chips? A new scientific study explains why some people like salt more than others. It may be related to how much you weighed when you were born. Salt can contribute to high blood pressure, but not all high sodium foods taste salty.
Nutritionists have discovered that individual differences in salty taste acceptance by two-month old infants are inversely related to birth weight. Lighter birth weight infants show greater acceptance of salt-water solutions than do babies who were heavier at birth.
According to lead author nutritionist Leslie Stein, “The early appearance of this relationship suggests that developmental events occurring in utero may have a lasting influence on an individual?s preference for salty taste.
“Because similar relationships were NOT found for sweet foods, the data suggest that there is a specific and enduring relationship between birth weight and salty taste acceptance. Now additional studies are needed to determine whether birth weight predicts salt preference and, even more importantly, salt intake, in older children and adults.”
Although people who have high blood pressure, or hypertension, generally consume less sodium than others, their average daily intake is still far higher than recommended levels, according to epidemiologist Umed Ajani.
ed Ajani analyzed data collected in 1999 and 2000 from a random sample of more than 4,000 Americans and found that 42% of those surveyed had high blood pressure. This is higher than normal, since high blood pressure is usually about one-third for an average group. People with hypertension took in 3,330 mg of sodium a day and people without hypertension consumed 3,600 mg a day. Both these amounts are far more than the 2,400 mg maximum recommended by the American Heart Association. Salt does not lead to high blood pressure in everyone, but it does in some people.
Ajani says that people need to be told that foods that do not taste salty can still contain high levels of sodium. For example, a doughnut can have as much as 257 mg of sodium, about 10% of the recommended daily limit. Table salt is sodium chloride, but other chemicals containing sodium, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium benzoate, are used in foods as flavorings or preservatives.
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