Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jun 13, 2007 11:38 AM

salt/sodium question

Can someone answer this question for me?
Here is the background:
I have a LONG history of eating more salt than any 10 people I know put together. Due to blood pressure issues, I have gone on a nearly 0 salt diet. I'm in week 4. I'm used to it now and am surprisingly okay with it.
Obviously, I have had to change my cooking habits. Something I have noticed is that recipes that have lemon or lime zest as an ingredient now taste saly to me. I am wondering why this is. Does zest contain sodium, or is there some other taste dynamic going on here?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know the science, but something else is definitely going on. The effect is magnified if you combine lemon with garlic.

    1. There is a small amount of sodium in lemons/limes. According to the USDA about 1 mg per average fruit.
      I don't think that would be enough for a noticeable "salty" taste though.
      In ref to the garlic post one clove of garlic has 1 mg sodium.

      1. Do you think it is possible that the acid or bright flavor of the citrus could be enhancing the natural salt in food you are eating? Just a thought. I once read that some mushrooms naturally contain MSG, that would explain why I love them in almost anything (savory).

        3 Replies
        1. re: sweetie

          Hey Sweetie, that is what I was hoping.

          1. re: sweetie

            mushrooms naturally contain glutamate, not monosodium glutamate. MSG is the manufactured product first isolated from seaweed around 1908 in japan. glutamates are what's responsible for the umami/savory taste.

            there is still no definitive evidence as to whether MSG is bad for you or not. most negative things you hear are based solely on anecdotal evidence and not empirical research (this doesn't include the effects on people with glutamate allergies). what is definitely known is that the substitution of MSG for salt in the diet can have positive health effects depending on one's usual salt consumption, but that pretty much goes for any salt substitute.

            btw, any food product you buy with "hydrolized vegetable protein" in it contains MSG.

            1. re: uchinanchu

              Spot on. Now most MSG comes from stuff like cassava--which allows much greater production than from sources like seaweed.

          2. I've also heard that if you do need to use salt, that natural sea salt is much better for you in terms of blood pressure, but I've never been able to verify that.

            5 Replies
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              It's not about salt per se. It's about sodium. That's why processed foods are bad: sodium benzonate (preservative), monosodium glutamate (flavor enhancer), sodium chloride (i.e. salt), etc.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                Sea Salt is still sodium chloride, the same components of table salt or halite. Both table salt and sea salt have nearly identical amounts of sodium in 1/4 tsp. Sea salt is not better for you than table salt.

                1. re: leahinsc

                  What about Kosher salt? Is it better for you than table salt, in a cardio, blood pressure kind of way?

                  1. re: Spencer

                    It has the same effect as regular table salt. Salt will be salt regardless if it has been packaged with anything else. If it is mixed with something like garlic, there is less sodium per teaspoon simply because there is garlic there, too. But you will still get one sodium atom for every molecule of sodium chloride you consume regardless if it is kosher, sea, or table salt.

                    1. re: Spencer

                      kosher salt has no additives (no iodine or other agents to prevent caking/clumping). Crystals are larger so there is less sodium per 1/4 tsp.

                2. citrus enhances the tastes of other food, much like salt does. it might be possibly that you're noticing an effect, rather than an individual taste. or, i'm not sure how strict exactly, your diet is, or what your medical conditions are, but your body does need some salt, and it could have to do with that. but i doubt it's b/c of salt contained in the citrus. sorry i don't have anything more conclusive to share than that...... *shrug*