What are the Best Substitutes for Salt?

Concerned about your salt intake? Here are some of the substitutes for salt that are currently available and what you need to know about them.

Are you one of the many Americans who gets more than the recommended amount of sodium each day? Although the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 3,000 milligrams of sodium per day, the average American takes in almost twice that quantity on a daily basis. It seems that Americans love the taste of salt and those familiar white crystals can be found in abundance in most processed American foods. Fortunately, word is out about the negative health effects of high sodium consumption and people are becoming aware of the dangers of excessive salt in their food. That’s why more many salt lovers are looking for a substitute for salt that can make their food taste less bland while keeping their sodium intake in check.

Why is high sodium intake such a problem? In a study published in 2007 in the British Medical Journal, it was shown that participants who consumed a lower sodium diet had a twenty-five percent reduction in their risk of heart disease ten to fifteen years later. According to the results of this study, a good tasting substitute for salt might have a significant impact on the incidence of heart disease in this country.

What available options are there when it comes to finding the best salt substitute? Conventional salt crystals found in the salt shaker on your table are made up of sodium chloride crystals. It’s the sodium portion of these crystals that can cause undesirable effects such as elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. The solution some companies have come up with as a substitute for salt is to combine chloride with potassium to create a potassium chloride salt substitute. These salt substitutes are available in most grocery stores under a variety of names such as NoSalt.

There are two problems with potassium chloride salt substitutes. Use of potassium salts can be a problem for people with kidney disease and diabetes since these groups may have problems eliminating the excess potassium from the body. When potassium builds up in the body, it can have life threatening results. Most people with normal kidneys are able to easily eliminate excess potassium so that potassium chloride salt substitutes pose no risk. The second problem is the taste. Many people find potassium chloride salt substitutes to be a poor substitute for the real thing. They’re often described as having a bitter aftertaste.

If potassium chloride salt substitutes aren’t a good option, what other choices do you have? At your grocery store, you can usually find a selection of light salts which are made up of half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride. These salt substitutes still may not be suitable for those with kidney disease, but for the normal person, this may be a viable alternative from a taste standpoint. They have a more believable salt like taste since they contain actual sodium chloride. Keep in mind that if you use light salt in abundance, your sodium intake may still be excessive. Even these substitutes for salt should be used in moderation.

Possibly the best salt substitute to use are some of the herbal based salt-free seasonings that can be found in the spice section of your grocery store. These salt-free seasonings use a variety of herbs and spices mixed together to add flavor to food and can be an excellent substitute for salt from a taste standpoint. You can even create your own salt free seasonings by experimenting with herb combinations that satisfy your own tastes. You may initially miss the salt taste you’re accustomed to when using these blends, but over several weeks your tongue will adapt and you’ll soon find yourself preferring these substitutes for salt over the real thing.

If you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake, there are viable substitutes for salt available. Experiment a bit and see what salt free option is right for you.

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  1. Very useful information. Whenever I munch on excessive potato chips i feel somewhat jittery and anxious. I know the salt ( and MSG) causes this, but when cravings set in, I give in.

    You haven’t mentioned sea salt? How good or bad is this?

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