Are you interested in taste and flavors? In how different tastes such as salt are perceived?

I have been interested in taste perception for more than 20 years. One of my favorite taste activities, perfect for most social gatherings with food (when we get back to those post-Covid) focuses on the perception of salt.

For this taste activity, you need a regular potato chip and a pepper shaker or grinder. A glass of water to rinse your mouth between tastes is helpful, but not required.

With those supplies at hand, play the presentation below. I will guide you through the taste activity and then explain how to use what you learned when comparing food labels at the store.

Want a second look at the nutrition labels?

The labels show how a serving of similar product – chips – can have varying levels of calories, fat, and sodium, depending on how they are made. Understanding your taste preference and health needs can help you make the best choice for you – even for an occasional food like chips.

Early in my nutrition career, I advised people to just pepper their food and leave the salt shaker behind. That advice might have duplicated the interaction in the taste activity.  Now I try to develop flavors that enhance the taste experience, and encourge others to do the same.

I personally prefer a lower salt intensity in my food. I prepare foods with less salt during cooking and then I sprinkle a little on the top, along with cracked pepper, where I get the most flavor sensation.

This approach helps others in my family enjoy a lower sodium meal, too. Most of the time, they will add a little salt to food before eating, so starting out with less in the recipe helps moderate their sodium intake.

If you are looking for ideas to increase flavor with less sodium, check out how to dilute the sodium per serving of a meal kit or recipe in 5 Ways to Eat More Veggies on a Budget.

Salt Taste Activity