Cutting down your salt intake can help your health immensely.
Although it may not seem like much, reducing your sodium intake by only half can have a significant effect on your blood pressure and arterial function in general.
But how to do this? And are there any salt substitutes that can help the process?
In this article, we will explore the options when it comes to these substitutes, how they affect the body, and how they can help – or hurt – people with certain health conditions.
Let's dive right in!
First Things First: Are Salt Substitutes Safe?
Before getting into the exact salt substitutes out there, there is one important question to answer –
Are salt substitutes safe at all?
We wish there was a short answer! The thing with most substitutes is, they contain potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. They taste similarly, which is the reason why manufacturers chose potassium chloride instead.
This ingredient can react with certain medications and also negatively affect people with kidney problems or heart conditions.
Therefore, substitutes containing potassium are not ideal for everyone, and if you have any of these problems or any other condition you are worried about, you should consult your healthcare provider before using any salt substitutes.
When it comes to those without potassium, they have shown to be safe in general.
Now that we have determined what the possible risks of including salt substitutes in your diet are, we should look at different options you have. Here is a short salt substitute list:
○ NoSalt Salt Substitute
○ Morton Salt Substitute and Morton Salt Substitute Lite
○ Flaky Sea Salt
○ Nu-Salt Salt Substitute
○ Diamond Crystal Iodized Salt Sense
If you decide to try any of these substitutes and you are not sure whether they are safe for you to use...
...You should, of course, schedule an appointment with your doctor to check.
On the other hand, if you do not care about this list of salt substitutes and want to try herbs to replace salt and give taste to your meals, that's a great idea.
You could try cayenne, rosemary, nutmeg, chives, coriander, ginger, oregano, paprika, cumin or other natural salt substitutes.
They will certainly not influence your health in a negative way or interact with your medication.
If you do not want to risk it, try using a combination of spices and other natural salt alternatives which can improve the taste but take away the consequences of a high-salt diet.
Now that we know what substitutes for salt there are, let us look at some specific health conditions which may require people to reduce their salt intake, and whether or not the salt substitutes should be considered.
Health Conditions that Need Attention
1. Kidney Patients
When it comes to kidney patients, salt substitutes are generally not recommended.
As we said, potassium-containing substitutes can negatively effect these patients (because without fully functioning kidneys your body is not able to process the potassium and get rid of the excess).
The build-up of potassium causes high blood pressure, puffiness and shortness of breath.
To lower sodium intake, avoid all kinds of salts, sauces and salted snacks. Recommended salt substitutes for kidney patients are fresh garlic and onion, black pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, Italian and poultry seasoning etc.
2. Patients with High Blood Pressure
As for people with high blood pressure, it is highly recommended to get rid of as much salt from your diet as you can.
Of course, many of these people resort to using salt substitutes for high blood pressure. In general, if you have high blood pressure, there is research that has shown that a higher intake of potassium can benefit you. So, by using substitutes containing it, you may help yourself by both lowering your salt intake and your blood pressure.
There are also good natural substitutes such as mustard, parsley, sage, almond extract and curry.
3. Heart Patients
Heart patients are in a similar situation to high blood pressure patients concerning salt substitutes.
According to research conducted in Taiwan, salt substitutes for heart patients helped their condition. Extra potassium lowered blood pressure, and it positively influenced different heart diseases.
It also showed that fewer people had strokes or heart failure compared to the group which ate regular salt.
Of course, the salt substitutes were used in small amounts. Excessive use and a lot of potassium would negatively influence both healthy and unhealthy individuals.
Finally, we have salt substitutes for diabetics.
Cutting sodium if you have diabetes is not obligatory, but it is recommended since people with diabetes tend to have high blood pressure as well.
Substitutes can help you in this process, but there is a significant thing to remember. You need to be sure that your kidneys are fully functional and ready to filter the excess potassium you are bound to take with the salt substitute you choose.
If you have not checked your kidneys recently...
...It is better to keep the intake of both sodium and potassium as low as you can.
As for the best salt for diabetics, same goes as for everyone else. You are better off with natural blends of spices and herbs which will add flavor to your meals and make them just as tasty as meals with salt.
The Problem With Salt (& Why You Need to Reduce Salt Intake)
As you can see, salt substitutes can be used by many people to help them change their diets and lower the sodium level...
Which is at all time high all around the world.
The reason is, salt is very inexpensive and accessible to everyone. Therefore, it became one ingredient which is a part of every meal we eat during the day.
Instead of the recommended 2400 milligrams of sodium daily, an average American takes from 7 to 10 grams a day.
A good question is: can anything be done about this, besides relying on substitutes for salt?
As we have seen, salt substitutes have their flaws, especially if you have a condition which would prevent processing excess potassium you take with a substitute for salt.
What medical experts recommend is the following:
Since eating excess salt is a learned thing, you have to unlearn it. You can do that by:
1) First, deciding that you want to reduce salt intake.
2) Next, cutting back salt as much as you can.
3) And finally, getting used to it. For a short period, your food may feel tasteless, but soon, your taste buds will reprogram, and you will not need as much salt as earlier to feel the taste of food. What can help this process is trying some of the spices, blends, combination of herbs we suggested for you above.
When you find some options you like, you will need less salt in your food. The great thing about this is that it is an entirely natural way to reduce sodium intake, which means that it can be done by everyone, including kidney patients and diabetics.
In Defense of Potassium...
A final remark that we want to make is that potassium is not necessarily bad.
As we have seen, there has been research which showed that potassium influences patients with high blood pressure and heart conditions positively.
Therefore, it is not something that has to be avoided at all costs.
However, you can also find other natural sources of potassium such as spinach, bananas, sweet potato, avocado, watermelon, beets and many other fruits and vegetables.
If your diet already contains many of these in it, then your potassium levels are probably good.
To Sum It All Up
There are many ways to reduce sodium intake, and you should try at least some of them.
You can go step by step to try to reduce salt, which is a more complicated way for many, but it is the safest way generally recommended by doctors.
You can also choose to facilitate the process by using a salt substitute, but you need to be aware of different types that are out there.
In any case:
If you are embarking on a journey of cleaning up your diet and living a healthier life, you should consult your doctor, who will help you with the process.
As for the salt substitutes, do not forget that besides getting advice from your doctor, you can also consult the label and the website of the manufacturer, to see their recommendations.