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Are Salt Substitutes a Healthy Way to Lower Your Sodium Intake?

It’s hard not to acquire a taste for salt when it’s hidden in so many foods (especially the popular processed foods widely known as fast food ). So when your doctor tells you to slash the salt in your diet, you may not know how to make food taste good without it.

Are salt substitutes, which typically swap sodium chloride for potassium chloride , a good option?

According to me salt substitutes can be a healthy alternative for some people because potassium is an important mineral that helps lower blood pressure. However, salt substitutes can be dangerous when you have conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease or diabetes. So do not take salt substitutes unless they are approved by a physician. These conditions raise the risk of high levels of potassium (normally well-controlled by the body) in your blood. The potassium in salt substitutes can tip that balance.

Why is salt so bad for you?

Salt isn’t bad. On the contrary, your body needs both salt and potassium, which, on a microscopic level, pump fluid in and out of all your cells. The right levels of sodium allow your muscles to contract and your nerves to fire. They also regulate fluid levels to prevent dehydration. Optimal potassium levels are vital for normal functioning of the heart (including maintaining normal heart rhythm), the muscles and the nerves. But the balance between the minerals is a delicate one. And getting too much salt or potassium is dangerous. For example, when you eat too many salty foods, excess fluid starts to build up in your bloodstream. Your kidneys can’t filter all the fluid out, so the fluid stays in your blood vessels, straining their walls causing blood pressure and eventually swelling in legs known as oedema.

Where can you use salt substitutes?

You can use salt substitutes just like table salt at your meals and on snacks like popcorn. The one downside is that potassium chloride tastes bitter, or metallic, to some people. It’s best to start with small amounts. You can cook and bake with salt substitute. However, you can’t completely leave out the salt when you bake, or certain chemical reactions won’t occur.

Are salt substitutes best for reducing salt intake?

You don’t necessarily have to rely on salt substitutes. Why not try a more adventurous route? you can use more herbs and spices, and seasonings, many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties, so your diet can be healthier and even tastier.

How much should you limit salt?

The latest dietary Guidelines recommend that healthy adults and kids ages 14 and up limit their sodium to 2,300 milligrams (about 2/3 teaspoon) per day. Adults with hypertension or prehypertension should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon) per day to help lower their blood pressure. But keep in mind that most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed and restaurant foods, and not the salt shaker. And know that, just as you’ve acquired a taste for salt in your diet, over time you’ll be able to lose your taste for salt because it’s as addictive as sugar.

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