Individuals who suffer from health complications such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease are often instructed to cut down on their daily sodium intake. This in effect, implies that the daily quantity of sodium in the diet needs to be reduced to an acceptable level, as specified by the health practitioner according to the health condition at hand.
But sodium reduction isn’t only recommended for people with health complications. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the daily American intake of salt is one and a half or more teaspoons a day! The ideal quantity of daily salt consumption, according to the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, the American Heart Association, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt (about 1500 milligrams of sodium). Cutting down to this level of sodium intake per person per day would play a mammoth role in improving health, saving large sums of money which would otherwise have been spent on medical bills, and saving lives by reducing the risk of several health conditions that are exacerbated or activated by excessive sodium intake.
Are Salt Substitutes a Good Option?
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, switching to salt substitutes is a step in the right direction for most people. Individuals can opt for natural salt substitutes such as herbs, spices and lemon juice. In fact, ready-made natural salt substitute blends are also available in the market. Another salt substitute option is reduced or no-sodium salts, also known as potassium based salts.
Natural Salt Substitutes: Herbs and Spices
They might take some getting used to, but herbs and spices are a great way to cut down on the use of regular table salt in your meals. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, herbs and spices also play a role in reducing your susceptibility to several health complications including diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Experiment with the herbs and spices in your kitchen (garlic, sage, rosemary, curry, nutmeg- the list is absolutely endless) and create novel flavors and recipes! Adding lemon juice is also a great way to substitute salt in your meals since lemon juice stimulates the same taste receptors as salt does. You can also purchase ready-made blends from the supermarket. The Harvard School of Public Health suggests Salt-free Spike, Mrs. Dash, Benson's Gourmet salt-free seasonings, Penzeys salt-free spice blends, and Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt-Free Seasoning.
Reduced or No- Sodium Salts: The Pros and Cons
Potassium chloride based salts are similar in taste to sodium chloride and is thus used as the main ingredient in reduced or no-sodium salts. Salt substitutes that are entirely composed of potassium chloride are labeled as sodium-free salt substitutes, while those that replace have of the regular sodium chloride with potassium chloride are labeled as ‘lite’ salts. Potassium based salt substitutes are a good option for those individuals who do not get enough potassium in their regular diet. The extra potassium can reduce their vulnerability to osteoporosis, kidney problems, stroke, heart rhythm problems, and high blood pressure, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Potassium based salt substitutes, however, may not be the best health option for certain at-risk pools of individuals, according to the U.S National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). Patients with kidney problems, diabetes, blocked urinary flow, or those taking medication for kidney, heart or liver problems (such as a potassium-sparing diuretic, an ACE inhibitor, or an angio-tension receptor blocker), should always consult their health practitioners before switching to potassium-based salt substitutes, according to experts at Cleveland Clinic and the Harvard School of Public Health.
The Harvard school of Public Health also suggests a few options for potassium based salt substitutes: NoSalt, Nu-Salt, Morton Salt Substitute, and AlsoSalt for salt substitutes composed entirely of potassium chloride; Morton Lite Salt and Diamond Crystal Salt Sense for salt substitutes with 50% potassium chloride.