Are these pretzels making me thirsty?

Pubs can cut the pretzels – salty snacks don’t cause thirst and increase consumption of drinks

January 4, 2015 16:30
1 minute read.

Beer. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Bartenders need no longer encourage customers to eat pretzels, nuts and other salted snacks to get them thirsty enough to buy more alcoholic drinks.

Research from the University of Haifa has found that, contrary to popular opinion, consumption of salt is not necessarily connected to thirst or increased drinking.

It has also been thought that eating salty foods causes people to want to quaff high-calorie sweet or other drinks or alcohol to restore the mineral balance in the body, and so it was believed that eating salty snacks leads indirectly to weight gain.

Prof. Micha Leshem of the university’s psychology department said on Sunday that the idea that salt causes thirst is not based on research.

“Our study did not find any basis for this assumption,” he said.

He said this matter had never been studied before in a scientific way to simulate conditions of consuming salty foods. Thus, he carried out a study of 58 students, each of whom was asked to come to the lab every few days after two hours during which they did not eat or drink anything except for water and did not smoke.

The students were given caramelized (sweet) nuts, salty nuts or plain nuts with no additives. Using written questionnaires, they rated the level of thirst they felt. Two hours after each nutty “meal,” they were given as much bottled water as they wanted to drink.

The University of Haifa psychologist found that the level of thirst and the amount of water the students drank were no different after the students consumed the salty nuts than after the natural or sweetened nuts. To further examine the issue, the researchers chose 10 male and 10 female students who consumed the largest amounts of salt in their diet and asked the small subgroup whether there was a connection between salt and drinking.

Aside from scientific implications of balancing salts and fluids in our body and nutrition, said Leshem, “pubs can reduce the amount of salty snacks they provide their customers without compromising on their sales of drinks and the health of their clients.”

The Health Ministry launched a program over a year ago to gradually reduce the amount of salt in processed food because high amounts of sodium trigger high blood pressure, a major cause of strokes and heart disease.

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