NutritionTake It with a Grain of Salt Substitute: What...

Take It with a Grain of Salt Substitute: What You Need to Know About Sodium Alternatives

According to the American Heart Association, you should limit your daily intake of sodium to 1,500 mg a day. Especially if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you can benefit tremendously from reducing your sodium consumption.

It’s common knowledge that processed foods, junk foods and meals offered at fast food joints are packed with sodium. Steering clear of them can definitely help lower your total sodium intake per day. Some people choose to reach for salt substitutes in order to keep their sodium intake to a minimum. So should you follow suit?


Getting to Know Them

Most of today’s salt substitutes do not contain sodium chloride — the chemical composition of salt. What they contain is potassium chloride, which is something that tastes like salt but not quite. A lot of people do not fully like salt substitutes made of potassium chloride as they seem to taste bitter, or has a bitter aftertaste.

Some salt substitutes on today’s market still contain sodium chloride, but in limited amounts. Usually, they combine sodium chloride and potassium chloride in order to come up with a salty seasoning but with much, much less salt in it than table salt. These products are commonly dubbed as lite or low-salt salts by their respective manufacturers.


The Problem with Potassium Chloride

Other than the fact that many people find that salt substitutes consisting of potassium chloride have a bitter taste or a bitter aftertaste, there is another iussue that these particular salt substitutes come with, and that’s the fact that it can pose some danger to individuals who are suffering from certain medical conditions.

For instance, experts say that too much potassium chloride can be risky for those with kidney disease, or whose kidney functioning is diminished. Too much potassium chloride is also said to be bad for those who are taking certain medications for hypertension, such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics that work by sparing potassium.


A Vicious Cycle

Most people who turn their backs on salt and switch to salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride are those who have high blood pressure and heart disease. But just like what’s discussed earlier, potassium chloride can also pose some risk to these people based on certain factors.

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For instance, those with kidney failure tend to have high blood pressure. As mentioned earlier, the intake of too much potassium chloride can be bad for those whose kidney functioning is compromised. In a nutshell, the more they avoid salt and switch to salt substitutes, the worse their respective conditions may end up!

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MSG: Is It a Good Salt Substitute or Bad?

A seasoning that is commonly used in place of salt is MSG. Short for monosodium glutamate, it is actually the sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is a type of amino acid. Because it is somewhat salty and provides what’s called in the culinary world as the fifth flavor, MSG is a seasoning that is used widespread.

However, some people may have unfavorable acute reactions (nausea, headaches, etc.) to MSG, which is referred to as Chinese restaurant syndrome. Do take note that not everyone develops it. Further, there is not enough scientific evidence that MSG is bad for the health when consumed for a long period of time.


Other Alternatives to Salt Substitutes

So should you put up with bland-tasting dishes because table salt and salt substitutes are bad for you, and MSG may pose some risks? Not quite. That’s because there are plenty of other ingredients that you may use as seasoning. Some of them contain very little sodium, while others contain none.

For instance, there’s liquid aminos that packs only 160 mg of sodium per teaspoon. Then there are kelp granules that are also low in sodium but big in taste! Similarly, you may go for nutritional yeast that possesses a cheesy flavor. Don’t forget that there are plenty of culinary herbs and spices on the planet to choose from!







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