The School of Human Life Sciences is offering free gourmet hamburgers to participants in a new study on salt.
Former participants in the school’s studies have had to work their way through gruelling meals heaped with chilli, but Research Fellow Dr Jeff Beckett said volunteers this time around would be rewarded in grand style for their efforts.
“We’re looking at investigating a salt substitute, an alternative to salt,” Dr Beckett explained.
“We have seen a concerted campaign over the years for people to reduce their salt intake because of its association with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease down the track.
“We are seeing this campaign for people to have lower salt intakes but the reality is that many people still have very high salt intakes.
“So what has been looked at recently is maybe substituting a different salt.
“The normal salt we have on our meals is a sodium salt, but there have been studies that have looked at using a potassium-based salt, which have shown reasonably good results in terms of blood pressure.”
Dr Beckett and his colleagues are keen to extend this work and measure the short-term effects of using potassium-based salt on blood vessel function.
“What we’d like to be able to show is that if people really don’t want to eat a low salt diet, we might be able to give them a salty meal with potassium in it, which does not lead to problems down the track,” he said.
“You might be able to have the best of both worlds.”
Dr Beckett said the potassium-based salt had a “slightly metallic” taste on its own, but was quite palatable when incorporated into a meal.
“From our limited sample so far, people have said it actually tastes better,” he said.
“We are using it in gourmet burgers.
“We have come up with a standard bread roll that is baked in-house and the burger that goes with it. By creating all the different elements of the burger we are able to change levels of salt in whichever way we want.”
Anyone who would like to take part in the study can contact Dr Beckett on (03) 6324 5479.
Picture: Dr Jeff Beckett thinks people can “have the best of both worlds”.