Salt intake is an important risk factor for hypertension. Because it has been reported that increased salt intake dulls the taste of salt, measuring the sense of taste might be a good way of identifying individuals who consume excessive salt. Using a recently developed simple salt taste test, we investigated the relationship between the taste of salt and blood pressure. The subjects in this cross-sectional study were 823 Japanese adults (479 women and 344 men) 40 years old or older. Following a taste test with salt-impregnated taste strips, the subjects were divided into two groups: normal (recognition threshold of salt at <1.0% concentration) and taste impaired (≥1.0%). We determined hypertension from the measured blood pressure. In women, the multi-adjusted odds ratio (95% CI) of hypertension in the impaired group was 2.47 (1.53-3.99) compared with the normal group, whereas no significant difference was observed between the two male groups. When we excluded subjects with moderate and severe hypertension, similar findings were observed. A sub-analysis of couples living alone showed a higher prevalence of hypertension among men whose wives were in the impairment group (58.8%) than in the normal group (36.7%, P=0.10). In conclusion, the taste of salt is associated with blood pressure in Japanese women, but not in men. Because most family meals in Japan are prepared by women, educating women about salt reduction may contribute to the prevention of hypertension, not only among women but also among their husbands and family members.
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