Japan's New Electric Chopsticks Will Trick Your Brain Into Tasting Salt

Nationwide Food News 2022.06.06
Trying to lower your sodium intake? These Tokyo researchers might have just the tool for the job.
Stressed at work and feeling your blood pressure rise? People all over the world are told by their doctors to try for a low-sodium diet to treat high blood pressure or other diseases, but there's no denying it, salt makes food taste good. Fortunately, researchers at Tokyo's Meiji University and the beverage manufacturer Kirin (known for beer) have been working on a join problem that might help people keep sodium levels low, while still enjoying their food.

These suspiciously wired-up chopsticks are actually part of a device that the researchers say can enhance the salty flavor of low-sodium foods, and when tested on experiment participants for the first time, results show that the high-tech chopsticks increase perceived saltiness in foods by about 1.5 times.
So what kind of science is being used to trick our brains into tasting extra salt that's not really there? According to the research team, the basic principle is that the extra salty flavor is perceived due to extremely weak electric shocks administered directly into the mouth through the tip of one of the chopsticks. Scientists have apparently been using this kind of weak electricity to play with flavors in the lab for years, but these chopsticks in particular are set to adjust the activity of ions in sodium chloride (table salt) and monosodium glutamate (MSG), which enhances salty and savory flavors.
To verify the effect of the new chopsticks, the researchers conducted an experiment on a total of 36 participants aged 40 to 65, all of whom were eating a low-sodium diet. If nothing else, one thing was clear: participants using the chopsticks tasted more salt than they did without all the electricity. Results show that they even thought that low-sodium food eaten with the high-tech chopsticks tasted saltier than regular food made with an average amount of sodium, and eaten with normal chopsticks.
The chopsticks aren't on store shelves quite yet, but with promising results, people around the world who are unhappily committed to a low-sodium diet might just be excited for any updates to come!

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