Salt can be replaced in food – using electric chopsticks in what is said to be a world first.
Japan’s Meiji University has developed an electrical stimulation waveform and chopstick device that enhances the taste of low-sodium foods.
In clinical trials with people who follow a low-sodium diet, the use of the chopstick device enhanced the salty taste perceived when eating low-sodium foods by about 1.5 times.
The result of salty taste enhancement via electrical stimulation is said to be a world first.
The Dr. Homei Miyashita Laboratory of the Department of Frontier Media Science, School of Interdisciplinary Mathematical Sciences (Miyashita Laboratory) and Kirin Holdings Company, Limited (Kirin Holdings), conducted the joint research.
Not just chopsticks but other utensils can be used to maintain low-sodium diets.
The research has discovered the possibility of using the effect of salty taste enhancement by electrical stimulation on everyday utensils such as chopsticks, spoons, and tea bowls, thereby increasing the level of taste satisfaction with low-sodium foods.
This technology may prove helpful for people trying to, or who need to maintain a low-sodium diet.
The research method saw thirty-six men and women aged 40-65 years who are currently reducing sodium intake or have done so in the past were tested using a chopstick-type device that delivers weak electrical stimulation to samples that imitate ordinary food (gel containing 0.80 percent salt) and samples that imitate reduced-salt food (gel containing 0.56 percent salt).
After tasting the sample (which contained 30 percent less salt than the sample that imitated ordinary food), a test was conducted to evaluate the intensity of the perceived saltiness. The same device was also used to evaluate changes in the salty intensity and flavor of reduced-sodium miso soup.
When tasting samples imitating low-sodium food, the perceived saltiness was enhanced by a factor of 1.5 when the developed electrical stimulation waveform was applied to the chopstick device, compared to without electrical stimulation.
In addition, the study confirmed that the intensity of the salty taste of the sample imitating low-sodium food was the same as that of the sample imitating ordinary food when electric stimulation was applied. This suggests that when food with 30 percent less salt is consumed, a device equipped with this technology can provide a salty taste equivalent to that of a regular meal.
In addition, in an experiment using reduced-sodium miso soup, the salty taste enhancement effect was confirmed, and the participants commented that they felt an improvement in richness, sweetness, and overall tastiness.
Kirin Holdings say they will continue to develop new services that support lifestyle disease prevention by increasing dietary satisfaction to make consumers’ diets tastier, more enjoyable, and healthier.
In the future, the Miyashita Laboratory and Kirin Holdings aim to use the results of this joint research to provide both mental satisfaction from a richer perceived taste along with health benefits derived from nutritional aspects for those who follow a low-sodium diet.
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