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ABSTRACT

U.S. dietary guidelines suggest a maximum intake of 2,300 mg of sodium per day (5.8 g of salt), while the average consumer intake is 9 g of salt (3,600 mg Na) per day. Sea salts can have lower sodium content and distinct mineral profiles that may also influence salty taste intensity and/or time intensity. The objective of this study was to evaluate the sensory profiles of sea salts and to determine if other mineral content impacted the basic taste profile. Sea salts (n = 38) were collected and sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc concentration of each salt was determined. A trained descriptive sensory panel (n = 9 panelists) evaluated each salt in triplicate. Salt solutions were evaluated on an equivalent weight and on an equivalent sodium content basis. Time-intensity profiling of salty taste was also conducted. Salts differed (P < 0.05) in specific minerals. Some sea salts had volatile flavors (green/herbal, smoky, earthy) while three sea salts had 30% less sodium compared to a reference table salt. Salty taste intensity on an equivalent sodium basis was not different (P < 0.05), but time-intensity profiles for salty taste were distinct (P < 0.05). These results suggest that other minerals may play a role in salty taste perception.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS

Food processors are very interested in reducing amounts of sodium present in food products. Some food products have been advertising the use of sea salt. There has been some controversy that sea salt may be healthier than table salts due to the presence of other minerals. This research demonstrates that sea salts harvested from different parts of the world have different mineral content and time-intensity profiles of salty taste. Due to the different time intensity profiles, it may be possible to use less of some sea salts to obtain the same salty taste as a food containing traditional salt but having a lower sodium content.