Experimental sodium depletion and salt taste in normal human volunteers

Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 May;51(5):881-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/51.5.881.


To examine the sensory effects of extreme sodium depletion in humans, 10 normal volunteers were fed a very-low-sodium diet and were treated with diuretics for 10 d. Urine samples were collected and blood was drawn for hormone analyses. Taste tests included threshold and intensity judgments of salt (NaCl) and sucrose and preferences for salt and sucrose in foods. Subjects also rated the pleasantness of 29 foods listed on a questionnaire. Substantial sodium depletion was induced in all subjects. Salt thresholds decreased in a majority of the subjects whereas preference judgments for salt in foods tended to be greater during the depletion period. The changes in pleasantness of the 29 foods revealed that saltier foods were substantially more attractive during the depletion period than during the pre- and postdepletion periods. These data indicate that experimental sodium depletion in humans is followed by moderate sensory changes and an increased preference for salty foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aldosterone / blood
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Diuretics / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Potassium / urine
  • Renin / blood
  • Sodium / urine
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium, Dietary / pharmacology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste / drug effects*


  • Diuretics
  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Aldosterone
  • Sodium
  • Creatinine
  • Renin
  • Potassium