Food can taste a little bland without salt which can be a dilemma if you want to lower your sodium intake. Unfortunately, most Americans love the taste of a salty potato chip and are a bit too liberal with the salt shaker. If you’re having trouble weaning yourself off of salt, you may have considered using a salt substitute. Table salt substitutes can be purchased at most grocery stores under a variety of names such as Nu-Salt or No Salt. Is a salt substitute a healthy substitute for traditional salt?
What are table salt substitutes made of?
While traditional table salt is made up of sodium chloride, salt substitutes replace the sodium with potassium to give a potassium chloride compound. The result is an ingredient with a taste that’s vaguely salt-like in flavor, although with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Some people are able to adjust to the difference in taste over time, while others are unable to tolerate them due to the bitterness. Some types of table salt substitute have partially resolved the taste issue by offering low salt preparations consisting of both potassium chloride and smaller amounts of sodium chloride to keep the flavor more realistic. This is a good alternative for some people.
Is a salt substitute a healthy option if you’re restricting your sodium intake?
For most people, a table salt substitute is a healthier option to regular salt. There are some people who shouldn’t have large quantities of potassium, particularly those who have kidney disease, heart disease, or are taking certain types of blood pressure medications. If you’re taking medications for blood pressure control or have a history of heart or kidney problems, consult your doctor before using any potassium based product. If your kidneys are healthy, a salt substitute is usually a healthier option than regular table salt. Studies have shown that people who have higher dietary intakes of potassium have lower blood pressures and a lower risk of heart disease.
Are there other advantages to using a salt substitute?
Because sodium causes water to be retained and potassium does not, you’re less likely to experience water retention when you use a table salt substitute. This can be beneficial if you have a tendency to bloat and retain water during certain times of times of the month.
To make the transition from table salt to a salt substitute, it may be more palatable to start with a light salt which is a mixture of potassium chloride and sodium chloride until you become accustomed to the taste difference. You can also mix your own light salt by buying a potassium chloride salt and mixing it with a small amount of table salt. Over time, gradually reduce the amount of table salt as you become accustomed to the taste of the table salt substitute. Keep in mind that you can also use herbs and spices to add flavor to food without using the salt shaker.
Salt substitutes can provide you with an alternative way to add flavor to your food without adversely affecting your blood pressure. Next time you’re at the grocery store, look for them in the spice aisle.