Food and Behaviour Research

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Using herbs/spices to enhance the flavor of commonly consumed foods reformulated to be lower in overconsumed dietary components is an acceptable strategy and has the potential to lower intake of saturated fat and sodium

Petersen K, Fulgoni V, Hopfer H, Hayes J, Gooding R, Kris-Etherton P (2023) Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Jul 31;S2212-2672(23)01293-5 doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2023.07.025. 

Web URL: Read this article on PubMed


Background: Foods lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars (i.e., overconsumed dietary components) must have an acceptable flavor profile to promote intake.

Objective: The aim of this research was to model the impact of using herbs/spices as flavor-enhancers when reducing overconsumed dietary components in commonly consumed foods and evaluate acceptance of these flavor-enhanced reformulations.

Design: Ten leading sources of overconsumed dietary components were identified using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2015-2018 dietary data. These foods were reformulated to reduce overconsumed dietary components and herbs/spices were used to preserve acceptability. The impact of consumer adoption of the reformulated foods on intake of overconsumed dietary components was modeled using NHANES data. Consumer acceptability of the reformulated recipes was assessed with blind taste testing.

Participants/setting: Dietary data from adults 19+ years (n=9,812) included in NHANES 2015-2018 were used to identify foods for reformulation and model the potential impact of reformulation. The blind taste testing included 85-107 consumers per panel.

Main outcome measures: Estimated daily change in total intake of saturated fat, sodium, added sugars and energy with intake of the reformulated foods instead of the original foods. Consumer ratings of overall liking of the reformulated recipes vs. the original recipes were assessed using standard 9-point hedonic scales.

Statistical analyses performed: Descriptive statistics with use of survey procedures were used to model the impact of reformulated food adoption. Mixed effect models were used for analysis of the blind tasting data.

Results: With intake of the reformulated foods, instead of the original versions, by 25 to 100% of current consumers, estimates suggest lowering of saturated fat (25% consumer adoption: -2.9%; 100% consumer adoption: -11.4%), sodium (-3.2; -11.5%), and added sugars (-0.5; -2.7%) intake. The overall liking ratings for seven of the 10 reformulated foods were superior or at parity with the original foods.

Conclusion: This proof-of-concept research suggests that using herbs/spices to create flavor-enhanced recipes lower in overconsumed dietary components has the potential to reduce intake and is acceptable to consumers.


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