Culinary herbs and spices for low-salt dietary management: Taste sensitivity and preference among the elderly

Farapti Farapti, Afifah Nurma Sari, Annis Catur Adi, Hazreen B.Abdul Majid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Low-salt dietary management is a strategy for maintaining the health of the elderly. However, the elderly face the challenge of reducing salt consumption because of taste changes associated with aging. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of using herbs and spices for low-salt dietary management and its effect on taste sensitivity and preferences among the elderly. Methods: The study involved 54 nursing home residents with a mean age of 71 ± 8.2 years. Taste preference data were collected from self-reported questionnaires, whereas salty taste sensitivity was measured using the sodium chloride detection threshold (DT) using a forced-choice method with three different concentrations (0.1709, 0.3418, and 0.6837 M). Culinary preference was evaluated using three different formulas: F1 (regular salt), F2 (50% sodium reduction), and F3 (50% sodium reduction with herbs and spices addition). The assessed items included three side dishes (braised chicken, marinated tempeh, and spiced tofu) and three snacks (tofu schotel, vegetable omelet, and mushroom shumai), and the assessment was conducted using a single-blind method. Results: The majority of the subjects liked the salty taste (75.9%) and had good taste sensitivity (81.5%), especially women (16.2% higher). Subjects preferred 50% reduced salt with herbs and spices, similar to standard, but least liked the salt-only reduction formula. Statistical analyses showed that there was an association between culinary preferences in F1 and F2 and salty taste preference (p < 0.05), especially among women, but not salty taste sensitivity (p > 0.05). Increased levels of certain minerals were also found in all dishes. Conclusion: The study findings suggest that using herbs and spices is an effective method for low-salt dietary management in the elderly population and that taste preference plays a more important role in food selection than taste sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100162
JournalNFS Journal
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Elderly
  • Herb
  • Salt reduction
  • Spices
  • Taste preference
  • Taste sensitivity


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