Increasing dietary salt alters salt taste preference

Physiol Behav. 1986;38(2):203-13. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(86)90155-1.


In previous studies with humans, moderate reduction of dietary sodium decreased preference for salty foods. It had been hypothesized that this occurred via reducing taste stimulation with salty foods. Taste function after increasing dietary salt (NaCl), either with or without increasing salt taste stimulation, was examined in two experiments. In Experiment 1, one group of subjects was required to add crystalline salt to food daily for 4 weeks. A second group ingested salt tablets for the same period. A third group ingested a placebo. Whereas urinary sodium excretion increased in both groups ingesting supplemental salt, the concentration of salt in soup rated as tasting most pleasant increased only in the group adding salt to food. Rated intensity of salt did not change. In Experiment 2, salt supplementation was extended to 6 weeks and taste function was tested more extensively. At the end of the experiment, the concentration of salt in soup rated as tasting most pleasant increased in the group which added the crystalline salt to food. This group also added more salt to soup to taste than did the salt tablet group. The most pleasant concentration of KCl in soup was not significantly affected. Taken together these two experiments suggest that the preferred concentration of salt in soup can be increased after dietary salt supplementation and that increased salt taste stimulation is probably required for this to occur.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Sodium Chloride*
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Potassium Chloride