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© Kirin Holdings

These electric chopsticks can enhance salty tastes in low-sodium food

Published: 20th April, 2022 at 16:29
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Japanese researchers helping to reduce your salt intake without ruining a good meal.

The latest in the world of unusual gadgets, researchers in Japan have managed to create a pair of electric chopsticks that can enhance salty tastes, using electrical stimulations to reduce salt intake.

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This device was developed in collaboration between Meiji University’s Homei Miyashita and the beverage company Kirin Holdings. It looks just like your typical pair of chopsticks… but with a cable and a mini-computer strapped to your wrist.

To create the enhanced salty taste, the chopsticks emit a very weak electrical current, transmitting sodium ions from food, through the chopsticks and into the users mouth. This enhances the taste of salt, requiring less of it in your food to achieve the same taste.

© Kirin Holdings
The chopsticks can enhance salty flavours © Kirin Holdings

While this technology has potential across the world, it is especially useful in Japan. Kirin Holdings highlighted that the daily salt intake of Japanese adults is 10.9g for men and 9.3g for women. That is much higher than the World Health Organisations (WHO) salt intake standards of less than 5g per day.

Considering salt intake has been linked to the onset and severity of lifestyle-related diseases, these chopsticks could help limit disease in Japan and around the world.

In clinical tests, people who follow a low-sodium diet had confirmed that the device enhanced salty tastes of low-sodium food by about 1.5 times. They also described reduced-salt soup as being rich and flavourful with the chopsticks.

© Kirin Holdings
An attached computer powers the chopsticks © Kirin Holdings

This isn’t the first time that Miyashita has put his mind to the world of flavours. He is possibly best known for his creation of a lickable TV screen that is able to imitate various flavours.

The team is now looking to refine the product, planning on making it available to consumers in the next year. Kirin Holdings is also looking to make further products that can offer health benefits and taste combinations.

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Authors

Alex is a staff writer at BBC Science Focus. He has worked in technology and science journalism since graduating in 2018 with an interest in consumer tech, robotics, AI and future technology.

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