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​Why Does Salty Food Taste So Good?​​

​Ever wonder why salty foods taste so good? Science says it's all in our genes. Humans have an innate taste for salt because our bodies require about 500 milligrams (about one-fourth of the recommended daily amount) of salt to survive — for nerve function, fluid balance and hydration. Our taste buds allow us to determine if foods are safe for consumption — sour tastes often indicate spoiled food, while salty food is pleasurable. Our ancestors hunted and scavenged for foods naturally containing salt, because their bodies needed and craved it.

There is an over-abundance of salty foods in today's world. Our innate craving for salt now works against us — w​​e still need salt, but with so many processed, salty foods available we are eating way too much. The more salt we eat, the more our taste buds get accustomed to it, and the more we need to satisfy our taste buds. This leads to over-consumption of salt, which can cause damage to blood vessels and organs, increasing your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke​.

The good news is that your taste buds can adjust to less salt in your diet. It takes about six weeks for taste buds to regenerate and begin to taste other flavors. Aim for 1500 milligrams of sodium per day to prevent heart disease. You can do this by reading the nutrition labels on the back of packaged foods and staying under 150 milligrams of sodium per serving. By shopping the perimeter of your grocery store, you can stay away from the highly processed foods and eat as fresh as possible.

Photo of Executive Chef Craig Ford

Did You Know?

People who are diabetic shouldn't avoid carbohydrates.

The trick is portion control — most diabetics need three servings (or 1 1/2 cups total) of carbohydrates per meal. Whole wheat pastas, brown rice and sweet potatoes are smart carbohydrate choices.