Ultra-processed food consumption has increased worldwide, yet little is known about the potential links with taste preference and sensitivity. This exploratory study aimed to (i) compare sweet and salty taste detection thresholds and preferences following consumption of ultra-processed and unprocessed diets, (ii) investigate whether sweet and salty taste sensitivity and preference were associated with taste substrates (i.e. sodium and sugar) and ad libitum nutrient intake, and (iii) examine associations of taste detection thresholds and preferences with blood pressure (BP) and anthropometric measures following consumption of ultra-processed and unprocessed diets. In a randomized crossover study, participants (N = 20) received ultra-processed or unprocessed foods for 2 weeks, followed by the alternate diet. Baseline food intake data were collected prior to admission. Taste detection thresholds and preferences were measured at the end of each diet arm. Taste-substrate/nutrient intake, body mass index (BMI), and body weight (BW) were measured daily. No significant differences were observed in participant salt and sweet detection thresholds or preferences after 2 weeks on ultra-processed or unprocessed diets. There was no significant association between salt and sweet taste detection thresholds, preferences, and nutrient intakes on either diet arm. A positive correlation was observed between salt taste preference and systolic BP (r = 0.59; P = 0.01), BW (r = 0.47, P = 0.04), and BMI (r = 0.50; P = 0.03) following consumption of the ultra-processed diet. Thus, a 2-week consumption of an ultra-processed diet does not appear to acutely impact sweet or salty taste sensitivity or preference. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT03407053.

This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.