Salt taste preferences and perceptions of elderly and young adults

J Am Diet Assoc. 1990 Jul;90(7):947-50.


Current research has yielded both support and refutation for the theory that elderly adults have lower taste acuity. The present study compared the perception of and preference for salt in persons 65 years and over and in persons aged 20 to 35 years. The subjects were free-living, had not been hospitalized in the past 12 months, and had never been on a sodium-restricted diet. Salt was introduced in suprathreshold concentrations of 0.3%, 0.5%, 0.7%, and 0.9% in mashed potatoes and chicken broth. The 48 older adults in our study demonstrated higher preferences for the four salt concentrations in the potatoes (p = .0001) and the broth (p = .0004) than did the 53 younger adults. There were no significant differences in the two age groups' abilities to perceive the saltiness of the four concentrations. There were also no significant differences in salt perception among subgroups identified for age, gender, smoking behavior, and denture use. Both groups correctly ranked the concentrations in ascending order. Our study found that taste acuity for salt in older subjects was not different from that of younger adults when suprathreshold concentrations of salt in mashed potatoes and chicken broth were used as stimuli.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dentures
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Sodium Chloride*
  • Taste*


  • Sodium Chloride