Foods rich in salt might cause weight gain by making people eat more fats, says a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Chemical Senses.
We all know that too much salt is bad for health. It might be worse than we think, says a team of researchers from Deakin University, Australia.
Led by Professor Russell Keast, the scientists paved their way to the new findings based on previous research that showed how a greater sensitivity to the taste of fat would be linked with a greater chance of consuming fatty foods. Their latest study shows a similar trend: the quantity of salt in a particular food might determine how much one eats of it. Both correlations are thought to lead to weight gain.
The investigators first investigated how salt affects the taste of fat, and one’s predilection for certain foods. Participants were made to consume different types of soup (with varying salt and fat concentrations), and asked to rate how pleasant the food was and the desire to eat each. They were also to report their perceived amounts of salt and fats in the foods.
The results show that the rating of food pleasantness differed greatly as per the different salt concentrations. On the other hand, fat concentrations were not characterised by this variation: for instance, no increase in pleasantness was found between soups of 0%, 5%, and 10% fat. It was then concluded that the strong effect salt has on food pleasantness might explain how salt causes people to take to savoury fatty foods.
These findings were supplemented by those of a second study that showed how participants would consume less food and energy when the salt content in their meals were low and fat content high. An increase in both salt- and fat-content would, however, be linked with a significantly greater consumption of food and energy. The researchers suggested that salt might be interfering with the natural processes of the body meant to protect us from overconsumption such that the people would eat more fatty foods. Gradually, the body would grow less sensitive to fat, causing one to eat more to feel satiated.
It was also found that those more sensitive to the taste of fat would prefer lower fat concentrations than those who were less sensitive. On the other hand, added salt generated no such effect. The researchers explain that salt might be masking a person’s fat preferences.
Professor Keast says that their findings support the recommendation to lower salt intake.