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Electronic Salt Spoon Helps Reduce Salt Intake

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 May 2015
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Image: The electronic salt spoon (Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky).
Image: The electronic salt spoon (Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky).
A novel electronic spoon measures the exact amount of salt in a range of foods, helping patients make the transition to a low-sodium diet.

Developed by researcher at the University of Kentucky (UKY; Lexington, USA), the electronic spoon helps patients gradually retrain their taste buds to enjoy low-sodium foods through a gradual process of learning to cook and eat with smaller portions of sodium. Adapting to a low-sodium diet requires more than just reducing direct table salt intake, since sodium is hidden in many household food products, including canned soups, frozen pizza, and white bread.

To study the efficacy of the spoon, the UKY College of Nursing Family Sodium Watchers Program (FSWP) will recruit 220 patients and their families, tracking long-term health outcomes. As part of the program, patients and families will learn how to cook and shop for low-sodium foods through communication tools, such as consulting iPads and video conferencing through Skype. Since food is a family activity, including the family in the diet modification process is essential; the use of the digital tools will thus enable the researchers to educate families in rural parts of Kentucky.

“Family members, when they don't know how to choose low-salt foods at the grocery, and they cannot cook the low-salt foods, cannot support our patients, so we have to educate them together,” said associate professor Misook Lee Chung, PhD, RN, of the UKY College of Nursing. “This device can actually detect the amount of salt in food very accurately. You can use the salt spoon and detect the salt amount, and control the portion.”

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients are recommended 2,000-3,000 milligrams of sodium per day, which is also the recommended amount of sodium for maintaining a healthy diet. Sodium serves many essential functions in the body, but too much of it can result in high blood pressure, CVD, and stroke. But in fact, table salt is not the leading source of sodium; it is hidden in a variety of foods, including vegetables, processed foods, and restaurant meals.

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