|Basic InformationLatest News|AAN: Mercury in Seafood May Be Tied to Higher Risk of ALSDon't Skip Veggies in WinterDoes Mercury in Fish Play a Role in ALS?Increase in Foodborne Disease Outbreaks Tied to Imported FoodMost Parents Don't Think They're Meeting Kids' Nutritional NeedsVitamin D Pumps Up MusclesCutting Salt a Health Boost for Kidney PatientsPossible Drawback to Gluten-Free: Toxic MetalsHealth Tip: Give Your Kids Bone-Building FoodHealth Tip: Enjoy BeansHealth Tip: Eat Your AntioxidantsMediterranean Diet Plus Olive Oil a Boost to Heart Health?Health Tip: Eating a Healthy DietWinning the Veggie Wars With KidsHeart-Healthy Tips for Your Grocery ListWhole-Grain Foods May Help You Stay SlimHealth Tip: Have an Unusual BreakfastWhen Counting Calories, Consider the Cream and SugarHealth Tip: For Better Sleep, Watch What You EatSubstitutions for a 'Slimmer Bowl' Football PartyU.S. High School Kids Abandoning Sweetened SodasHealth Tip: Buying Nutritious Food on a BudgetHealth Tip: Make Sure You Get Enough IronToxins in Your Fast-Food Packaging?Timing of Your Meals Might Reduce Heart RisksMediterranean Diet May Help Lower ADHD RiskCould the 'Mediterranean' Diet Help Prevent ADHD?Health Tip: Avoid Added SugarsMost U.S. Children Consume at Least One Sugary Drink a DayKids' Sugary Drink Habits Start EarlyEven One High-Fat Meal Can Harm Your Liver, Study FindsGrilled, Smoked Meats May Up Mortality Risk After Breast CancerFDA, EPA Issue Guidance on Fish ConsumptionHealth Tip: Help Young Athletes Avoid MalnutritionCould Grilled, Smoked Meats Lower Survival After Breast Cancer?FDA Offers Guidance on Fish Intake for Kids, Pregnant WomenIncentives May Spur Poor Families to Buy More Fruits, VeggiesMonkey Study Boosts Theory That Fewer Calories Can Extend LifeHealth Tip: Stick With Your Healthy-Eating ResolutionCaffeine Found to Reduce Age-Related InflammationKids' Use of Artificial Sweeteners Spiked in Recent YearsMost of Canada's Packaged Foods, Drinks Have Added SugarsSushi Lovers, Beware: Tapeworm Now Found in U.S. SalmonDespite Pledges, No Improvement in Chain Restaurant Kids' Menus: StudyHealth Tip: Eat a Protein-Rich BreakfastWant to Leave Dinner Feeling Full? Bring on the BeansGovernment-Backed Salt Reduction Efforts Could Deliver Big Health Pay DayLots of Red Meat May Be Tied to Gut Disorder in MenHealth Tip: Improve Your DietHealth Tip: Get Enough Vitamin CQuestions and AnswersLinks
Craving Salt? Your Genes May Be the Reason, Study Suggests
by By Dennis Thompson
Updated: Nov 14th 2016
SUNDAY, Nov. 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Some people carry a genetically driven "salt tooth" that could affect how heavily they season their food, potentially endangering their heart, a new study suggests.
Genetic variations cause some people to be more keenly aware of bitter flavors, said lead researcher Jennifer Smith, a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing.
These people are about twice as likely to exceed the daily limit of salt recommended by heart health specialists, according to study findings presented Sunday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in New Orleans.
The research centers on a gene called TAS2R38. Variations of this gene have been shown to enhance a person's perception of bitter flavors.
"We were looking at a gene that codes for taste receptors," Smith said. "People with one genotype will taste bitter more keenly than people who have the other genotype."
Previous studies have shown that people carrying those genetic variations of TAS2R38 are more likely to avoid heart-healthy foods that can taste bitter, like broccoli or dark leafy greens, the researchers said.
Smith decided to test whether this gene would lead people to use more salt in their daily diet. Eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which increases a person's risk for heart attack and stroke.
Her team analyzed the diets of 407 people in rural Kentucky who had two or more heart disease risk factors. The researchers also did genetic testing to see whether participants carried the gene variation that enhances bitter taste.
"We found people who tasted bitter more keenly were in fact 1.9 times more likely to be non-adherent to the sodium guidelines," she said.
U.S dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2.3 grams of salt per day.
The researchers have different theories about why people with these genetic variants seem to eat more salt.
It could be that they taste salt more intensely and enjoy it more, causing them to prefer heavily salted foods, Smith said.
Or it could be that people use salt to mask the bitter taste of some foods, she added.
"There are alternatives you can use to flavor foods, and we need to begin investigating those," Smith said. "We can start to look if there are different types of spices or seasonings we can add instead of salt to offset the bitter taste. For example, with bitter vegetables, you can use a little bit of sugar rather than salt to offset the bitter."
The findings are fascinating but "very preliminary," said Dr. Lawrence Appel. He's a professor of medicine and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.
"Because bitterness is amplified, these people may need some other flavor alternative to mitigate the gene-induced bitterness," said Appel, a spokesman for the American Heart Association. "But you always need replication [studies], because there are always a lot of chance findings in genetic research. It's definitely what I like to call preliminary science."
Another study presented at the AHA meeting found that most U.S. adults consume too much salt, based on 24-hour urinary tests.
Overall, adults excreted more than 3.6 grams of sodium in their urine on a given day, far higher than the 2.3-gram dietary limit, researchers found. Men excreted about 4.2 grams a day on average; women, 3.1 grams, according to the study.
"We still consume vastly more sodium than we need to, and it does adversely affect blood pressure. Especially as we age, it becomes increasingly important to cut back," Appel said. "Whether or not you have this gene, sodium reduction is good for you."
Research presented at medical meetings is typically considered preliminary, because it has not had the same scrutiny as studies in peer-reviewed journals.
For more on sodium and heart health, visit the American Heart Association.
This article: Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.