The taste for salt in humans

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Feb;65(2 Suppl):692S-697S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/65.2.692S.


Accumulating evidence indicates that the taste of salt is innately appealing to humans, although responses to salty foods are strongly influenced by environmental factors. Except in instances of severe, prolonged sodium depletion, a sodium-specific appetite has not been documented in humans. Limited data reveal no clear association between early exposure to salt and various hedonic responses to salt later in life, but recent exposure markedly alters a person's preferred salt content of foods. Restricting exposure for 8-12 wk can enhance the appeal of reduced-sodium foods in both normotensive and hypertensive individuals. Although the appeal of the taste of salt is one factor contributing to its intake, the extent to which such a hedonic shift promotes long-term adherence to a reduced-sodium diet has not been determined. There is little evidence supporting a relation between either taste sensitivity or hedonic responses to salt and blood pressure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Appetite / physiology
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary* / administration & dosage
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary