Taste testing research just released by Sunkist Growers Inc. suggests that Americans can reduce the amount of salt they add while cooking by up to 75% by using lemon zest and juice instead.

Two chefs conducted the research at Johnson & Wales University on behalf of Sunkist as part of the company’s “S’alternative” program, according to a news release. The Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based citrus company has been encouraging consumers to use lemons to replace the flavor-enhancing properties of salt for several years via the S’alternative program.

“While Sunkist has put a lot of energy behind informing consumers about our sodium reduction strategies using lemons, this research gives us results that show just how effective Sunkist lemons can be in reducing people’s salt intake without compromising flavor,” Sunkist advertising manager Joan Wickham said in the release.

Federal dietary guidelines say most healthy adults should limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams. However, for children, people of African-American heritage, all adults over age 51 and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the recommended daily intake is 1,500 milligrams, according to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

In June, the Food and Drug Administration’s commissioner Margaret Hamburg said she wants FDA to roll out new guidelines with even lower salt intake recommendations.

Hamburg told the Associated Press the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of salt daily. That’s about 33% more than the federal guidelines and 50% more than the American Medical Association’s guidelines.

By replacing salt with lemon zest while cooking and adding lemon juice immediately before serving food, the chefs’ research showed Americans can reduce their sodium intake without sacrificing flavor, according to the Sunkist news release.

“While each taste test participant quickly identified the no-salt added recipes, the use of Sunkist lemons with reduced sodium produced a more flavorful dish,” according to the news release. “Most participants actually preferred recipes made with reduced salt and added lemon juice and zest to the original full-salt recipes.”

Master chef Karl Guggenmos, one of the two taste-test researchers, said one of the best results from project is that cooks of all skill levels can easily use lemon zest and juice to replace added salt when preparing foods.

Michelle Dudash, Cordon Bleu-certified chef and author of “Clean Eating for Busy Families,” has created new recipes for the Sunkist S’alternative program incorporating the optimal blends of lemon zest and juice that were revealed by the research project.

Recipes and additional information on the Sunkist S’alternative program are available at www.sunkistsalternative.com.