One may develop preference for salty dishes halfway before reaching one’s first birthday, according to the results of a new study.
A study led by physiological psychologist Leslie Stein of the Monell Center indicated that babies introduced to such foods as bread and breakfast cereals have greater preference for salty dishes, when compared against those who have not been eating them yet.
Lead author Stein shared that “more and more evidence is showing us that the first months of life constitute a sensitive period for shaping flavor preferences.”
Researchers found a link between preference of babies for salty food, and their previous exposure to salt-containing starchy meals, including processed food.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on starchy table foods, including breakfast cereals, bread, and crackers; these foods are usually employed in the weaning of children. Dr. Stein shared: “Our findings suggest that early dietary experience influences the preference for salty taste.”
The babies who participated in the study were also checked when they reached pre-school age, as their mothers were asked to complete questionnaires regarding their dietary behavior. The responses to the questionnaires indicated that children who were introduced to starchy table foods before the age of six months were more likely to lick salt from foods, as well as eat plain salt.
Dr. Stein shared further: “Experimental studies are now needed to address the important question of how children and adults come to prefer high levels of salt in their food.”