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The Salt Flip: Sensory mitigation of salt (and sodium) reduction with monosodium glutamate (MSG) in “Better‐for‐You” foods


We tested the hypothesis that reduced-salt versions of four "better-for-you" dishes enhanced with monosodium glutamate (MSG) through a "Salt Flip" in an amount that still substantially reduced total sodium matched the consumer acceptance of normal-salt versions. Three versions each-standard recipe with normal salt, reduced salt, and reduced salt with MSG, of four dishes-roasted vegetables (RV), quinoa bowl (QB), savory yogurt dip (SD), and pork cauliflower fried rice (CR) were evaluated by 163 consumers for overall liking and liking of appearance, flavor, and texture/mouthfeel on the nine-point hedonic scale, preference, adequacy of flavor, saltiness, and aftertaste on just-about-right (JAR) scales, likeliness to order, and sensory characteristics by check-all-that-apply. For each dish, the MSG recipe was liked the same (or significantly more for SD, P < 0.05) than the standard recipe, and better than the reduced salt recipe for QB and CR. The same was true of likeliness to order. MSG recipes of QB and SD were significantly preferred to the standard recipes, with no difference for RV and CR. MSG recipes were consistently described as "delicious," "flavorful," and "balanced." Penalty-lift analysis showed that "delicious," "flavorful," "balanced," "fresh," and "savory"; and "bland," "rancid," and "bitter," were positive and negative drivers of liking, respectively. Two of three uncovered preference clusters, accounting for 68% of consumers, consistently liked MSG recipes, and the same or more so than standard recipes. We conclude that MSG can successfully be used to mitigate salt and sodium reduction without compromising consumer acceptance of better-for-you foods. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: The Salt Flip offers a promising dietary sodium reduction strategy through the addition of monosodium glutamate (MSG) to reduced-salt, savory, better-for-you foods that does not compromise consumer acceptance of their sensory profile.

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