Salt addiction is triggered by supersensitive taste buds


Whenever a plate of food was served to my uncle, he would reach for the salt cellar and liberally sprinkle the food with salt.  I always marvelled at the ritual – how could he “know” it needed “extra” salt ?  And why was he the only one in the family who felt the food needed to be doctored so, to make it palatable.

The standing joke around the table was that he couldn’t taste anything but maybe we were wrong. 

Salt overloaders may not be driven by a liking for its taste but also by a need to drown out other tastes. 

Research suggests – salt addicts fall into two categories

  • supertasters
  • non-tasters

The bitter truth about supertasters  

Supertasters experience tastes more intensely.  In particular they are supersensitive to bitter flavours.

A hunk of cheese is  really a blend of dairy flavours from fermented milk along with a range of bitter tastes induced by the ripening process. 

Typically salt is added to the cheese, to block these bitter tastes. If you’re a little surprised – check out the ingredients in your cheese.  Number 1 is milk and number 2 on the list is salt.  Yup, cheese is one of those foods carrying hefty amounts of “hidden” salt.

A supertaster finds low-salt cheese unpleasant not because the salt has disappeared, but because for them, the bitter flavours predominant leaving the cheese harsh. 

The neon world of the supertaster

Being a supertaster is like living in a world painted with neon colours, as opposed to the pastel world of the “normal” food consumer.

Supertasting is not restricted to getting more buzz from bitter flavours. 

Researchers have identified supertasters for a variety of flavours, for them

  • table salt is extra salty,
  • sugar is insipidly sweet,
  • chilli peppers burn big time  and
  • carbonated drinks tingle beyond the standard quiver.

For a non-taster the world is grey

There are people who barely notice any taste.  Non-tasters can exhibit a salt fetish because they need extra salt to get the level of taste to be equivalent to that of “normal” people.

Taste perception shows huge variablity

Our taste perceptions show just as big a variability as eye, skin and hair colour.    So cut salt addicts a little bit of slack at the dinner table.

The salt habit is only an issue if you’re suffering from salt sensitive hypertension.  

They are still working on a simple blood test to figure this out (it is coming) but in the meantime, a week or two of dietary  experimentation will tell you if you are one of the unlucky few who needs to go cold turkey and eat the turkey WITHOUT salt.   

PS.    For the record, my uncle who added a least a teaspoon of extra salt onto his food everyday, was never diagnosed with high blood pressure

Know someone who will find this post useful ? Share it on facebook, linkedin, twitter

Further reading

taste buds in your ears
broccoli and breast milk 
Fire breathing helicobacter pylori
Did you know that you have taste buds in your ears ? How to raise a child that loves vegetables Salt stokes the fires of the belly

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Sign up for the E-spoons E-zine to get a monthly compilation of the posts from 7 Big Spoons delivered to your inbox.

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below…..

This entry was posted in Heart disease and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>