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Physiol Behav. 1990 Apr;47(4):709-12.

Can sodium contents of foods be reduced by adding flavors? Studies with beef broth.

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  • 1University of Helsinki, Department of Food Chemistry and Technology, Finland.


Two experiments were conducted to investigate what effect the addition of spicy/herbal flavoring (allspice, marjoram, onion) and monosodium glutamate would have on the preferred level of saltiness in beef broth. First, subjects (N = 34) were asked to prepare ad lib mixtures according to their own preference of pairs of unsalted and salted broths: each pair was flavored with varying combinations of the four flavorants. Regardless of the flavor combination, the subsequent chemical analysis of mixtures indicated identical contents of NaCl (mean value 1.1% for all four combinations). Second, subjects (N = 38) rated the pleasantness of broths with 0.5, 0.8, 1.1, 1.4, and 1.7% NaCl under three sets of conditions: unflavored, flavored with allspice, majoram, onion and monosodium glutamate, and flavored with glutamate only. All samples but the one with a NaCl content of 0.5% were rated equally pleasant; the latter was rated somewhat less pleasant. The results provide no support for the widely held belief that other flavors, e.g., spices or herbs, might compensate for lower saltiness of foods.

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