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‘Electric’ chopsticks designed to provide jolt of flavour


Tokyo: Japanese scientists have put the flavour back into a low-sodium diet by developing electrically charged chopsticks that fool a diner’s taste buds into believing their meal has been liberally sprinkled with salt.

Scientists at Meiji University have teamed up with Kirin Holdings Company, one of Japan’s largest drinks manufacturers, to transform traditional chopsticks into a state-of-the-art solution to high blood pressure, strokes and other illnesses associated with a high salt intake.

Scientists at Meiji University have teamed up with Kirin Holdings Company to develop electric chopsticks.

Scientists at Meiji University have teamed up with Kirin Holdings Company to develop electric chopsticks.Credit:Meiji U/Kirin

The chopsticks are attached to a mini computer that is worn on a diner’s wrist and transmits a weak electrical current into the utensils. The electrical stimulation transmits sodium ions that are present in the food into the mouth to enhance the sensation of saltiness.

On the Meiji University website, Professor Homei Miyashita said tests have demonstrated that his “electric taste chopsticks” have proved popular with dozens of people, aged between 40 and 65, who have been advised by their doctors to reduce their salt consumption for health reasons.

Test subjects were given food containing varying levels of salt, and Professor Miyashita’s team concluded that the chopsticks allowed them to reduce the salt content by 30 per cent without compromising the flavour of the food.

“In an experiment using low-salt miso soup, we were able to confirm that the salty flavour was enhanced, and test subjects even expressed the opinion that the richness, umami, and overall taste were improved,” Professor Miyashita said.

The electric chopsticks are considered a possible tool to reduce salt consumption,

The electric chopsticks are considered a possible tool to reduce salt consumption,Credit:Meiji University/ Kirin Holdings

Soy sauce and miso are staples of the national diet in Japan, which has one of the highest salt consumption rates in the world, with a daily intake of 10.8g for adult men and 9.4g for women, double the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation.

In an effort to reduce ailments brought on by a salt-heavy diet, including hypertension and chronic kidney disease, the Ministry of Health has set an initial target of reducing daily intake levels to 7.94g for men and 7.09g for women.



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