Salt substitutes are a good option for many people who are trying to cut back on sodium. Some research has shown that they help reduce blood pressure and heart disease deaths when used in place of table salt. But they are not for everyone, so it is essential that you talk to your doctor before using one.
Most salt substitutes (including Morton Salt Substitute, NoSalt and Nu-Salt) consist of potassium chloride, which tastes somewhat like sodium chloride (table salt) but does not raise blood pressure. “Lite” or “low-sodium” salts (such as LoSalt and Morton Lite Salt) are blends of sodium chloride and potassium chloride.
Potassium actually helps lower blood pressure. Though many people could benefit from the extra potassium in salt substitutes, these products can be dangerous if you have certain conditions (notably chronic kidney disease) or if you take certain hypertension medications, including ACE inhibitors (such as captopril, lisinopril and benazepril) and potassium-sparing diuretics.
3 salt-sparing tips
- “Light” and low-sodium salt alternatives still contain some sodium, so you still need to take it easy with the shaker.
- Another option: Try an herb and spice blend, such as Mrs. Dash, that contains no sodium (check the labels to make sure). You can make your own using dried parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, celery seed, cumin and/or garlic powder, for example. Or, add lemon or lime juice and/or flavored vinegar to food.
- Eating more potassium-rich foods can help lower blood pressure. Good sources include dairy foods, bananas, leafy greens, potatoes, citrus fruits and beans. These foods contain other nutrients and phytochemicals—beneficial for blood pressure and overall health—that salt substitutes lack.
Keep in mind: Processed foods and restaurant meals supply about 80 percent of the sodium consumed in the U.S. and are a bigger worry than salt from your salt shaker.