Good news for all those who love salty foods but don't love all the actual, well, salt: Researchers at Washington State University have created a salt mixture that tastes super salty without using nearly as much sodium chloride.
According to their study, which was published in the Journal of Food Science earlier this year, the team created different blends of salt using varying measures of NaCl (the salt we all know and love) and other elements. In particular, they were interested in the effects of calcium chloride and potassium chloride on taste—two salts that can be so bitter, people won't eat them.
The WSU team created different balances of salt using all of the compounds and tested them on an "electric tongue" as a gauge for a human's threshold for calcium and potassium chlorides. They mixed the solutions into water and things like tomato soup to taste test.
In the end, the study notes, it was "a blend using approximately 96.4 percent sodium chloride with 1.6 percent potassium chloride and 2 percent calcium chloride [that] was the ideal reduction."
That breakdown may not seem significant, but even a two percent decrease in sodium chloride is healthier than what we typically consume. FDA guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligrams (or about one teaspoon) of sodium per day—Americans average 3,400 milligrams daily.
“It’s a stealth approach, not like buying the ‘reduced salt’ option, which people generally don’t like,” WSU Food Science professor Carolyn Ross explained. “If we can stair-step people down, then we increase health while still making food that people want to eat.”