Japanese researchers have created chopsticks that enhance flavor and saltiness without needing to add salt. According to researchers, this can be highly beneficial to those on a diet low in sodium and provide a critical flavor.
A small electrical current, almost insignificant, transfers sodium ions from food items to the mouth through the chopsticks to simulate saltiness. The current flows through a wristband that the user wears while using the chopsticks.
In Japan, where high blood pressure levels – a consequence of a high salt intake, affect more than 25 percent of people, salt levels in foods are a significant concern.
According to the World Health Organization guidelines, the average adult should consume about 5 grams of salt per day. The average Japanese consumes more than twice that amount each day. High blood pressure due to higher salt intake is the leading cause of heart attacks. This is what the Japanese health ministry noted in 2020 as the reason to reduce the recommended daily intake levels for sodium down to 7.5 grams and 6.5 grams for males and women from 8 grams and 7 grams in 2015.
However, forgoing salt, an easy and popular method to lower salt intake, can cause food to taste bland.
This is why Homei Miyashita, the lead researcher in this project and an instructor in media science at Meiji University, thought to make saltiness more realistic using tools. Miyashita partnered with Kirin to create this first of its kind chopsticks to simulate salty flavor.
25% Of Population In Japan Suffers From High Blood Pressure Due To High Salt Intake!
“You can taste the salty sensation when you put food into your mouth using the chopstick device. Alternatively, you may feel the salty taste as you place the device on your tongue,” the man said to VICE World News. Miyashita and Kirin intend to bring chopsticks on the market sometime in 2023 or 2024.
In a study with 36 women and 36 men, participants tasted two kinds of gels. One with sodium levels mimicking average food and the other simulated food with low sodium. They then tested the low sodium gel using electric chopsticks and were asked to rate how each of the three gels tasted in terms of perceived saltiness. The results showed that the electric chopsticks made low-sodium flavor taste 1.5 times more salty than with regular chopsticks.
These chopsticks were used to scoop up pieces of Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and daikon (white radish) in miso soup with low salt to evaluate the results, and the reports mentioned improvement in taste and flavor.
“I personally use these chopsticks all the time,” he said, noting that he enjoyed miso soup and sour pork.
In 2016 researcher Hiromi Nakamura from The University of Tokyo developed a fork that could make food taste saltier. The fork’s made its first public appearance at a pop-up store in Japan; however, it didn’t gain traction.
Miyashita’s lab has already explored how technology enhances human perception. The lab’s December project invented an edible TV screen that mimics foods’ flavors. He wanted to create multisensory experiences for viewers.
Source: Vice News
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