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Open Access Suppression of Bitterness Using Sodium Salts

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Bitterness is an ongoing taste problem for both the pharmaceutical and food industries. This paper reports on how salts (NaCI, NaAcetate, NaGluconate, LiCI, KCI) and bitter compounds (urea, quinine-HCI, caffeine, amiloride-HCI, magnesium sulfate, KCI) interact to influence bitter perception. Sodium salts differentially suppress bitterness of these compounds; for example urea bitterness was suppressed by over 70% by sodium salts, while MgSO4 bitterness was not reduced. This study indicated that lithium ions had the same bitter suppressing ability as sodium ions, however the potassium cation had no bitter suppression ability. Changing the anion attached to the sodium did not affect bitter suppression, however, as the anion increased in size, perceived saltiness decreased. This indicates that sodium's mode of action is at the peripheral taste level, rather than a cognitive affect.

A second experiment revealed that suppressing bitterness with a sodium salt in a bitter/sweet mixture causes an increase in sweetness. This suggests adding salt to a food matrix will not only increase salt perception, but also potentiate flavor by differential suppression of undesirable tastes such as bitter, while increasing more desirable tastes such as sweet.

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Keywords: BITTER SUPPRESSION; HUMAN PSYCHOPHYSICS; SODIUM; SWEET ENHANCEMENT; TASTE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2001

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  • International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions

    CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.

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