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Bread Texture Affects Salty Taste

Baked goods, which are a major source of dietary sodium, can taste as salty with less sodium through modifications in density and pore size. Karen Hopkin reports

Plan on breaking bread with friends and family this holiday season, but worried about the salt? Well, chemists may have come up with an enlightening solution. They’ve discovered that bread that’s more airy tastes saltier. The finding is in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. [Tabea Pflaum et al., Influence of Texture on the Perception of Saltiness in Wheat Bread]

There’s sodium chloride in everything we eat. It enhances flavor and improves the shelf life of foods. But too much salt can contribute to hypertension, and baked goods top the list of offenders. So can we cut back on sodium without saying no to dinner rolls?

To find out, researchers hit the kitchen and they whipped up some loaves with the same amount of salt but with different textures. By adjusting how long they allowed the dough to rise, they made breads that were either fine-grained and dense or more porous and light. And they found that volunteers rated the fluffier bread as tasting more briny.

By collecting samples of their subjects’ spit, the researchers determined that bread with larger pores releases its sodium faster when it’s chewed. It’s that rush of sodium that makes salt a mouthwatering saline sensation—even if there’s less of it.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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