Sodium is a mineral and electrolyte that is needed for normal body functioning and maintaining normal fluid balance in your body. However, excess salt consumption affects your kidneys because the sodium accumulates in your body and causes your blood volume to increase. As a result, your blood pressure rises, which can affect your heart function. Your physician may recommend using a salt substitute to satisfy your salty cravings without harming your health.
If you experience a condition like high blood pressure, excess sodium consumption can cause your blood to draw even more fluids, increasing your blood pressure. However, your taste buds may be acclimated to a high-sodium diet, making giving up salt difficult. In this instance, incorporating a salt substitute into your diet can be a way to satisfy your salt craving and enhance your food flavor without affecting your health. Other conditions that benefit from using a salt substitute include stroke, heart rhythm disorders, kidney troubles and osteoporosis.
Most salt substitutes contain potassium chloride, which can taste like salt and is an electrolyte, yet does not affect your body in the same manner as sodium chloride. However, potassium is not always a safe substitute. Excess potassium in your diet can affect you if you have kidney problems. The same can be true if you experience heart or liver problems. If you experience any of the earlier-mentioned concerns, check with your physician before using salt substitutes in your daily diet. However, some Americans do not consume enough potassium in their daily diets, which means increasing your potassium intake could be beneficial.
It’s important to carefully read salt substitute labels, because salt substitutes can contain trace amounts of sodium. If your physician has recommended that you severely limit or completely cut out sodium, salt substitutes that contain trace amounts of sodium can be unhealthy for you. Also, keep in mind that salt substitutes are not an exact taste match for salt. Salt substitutes can have a chemical, bitter taste when you eat them, which may not help your salt cravings to subside. This bitter taste is enhanced through heating, meaning they may not be a good option for use when cooking.
If you have trouble consuming salt substitutes in moderation, consider incorporating some additional flavoring alternatives into your cooking. Examples include herbs like fresh garlic, flavored vinegars, nutmeg, fresh ground pepper or oregano. If you do purchase pre-made herb mixtures, read the labels carefully to ensure they do not contain salt blends. If your physician recommends a certain sodium intake, check the label to ensure it does not contain excess sodium.
- Cleveland Clinic: Salt Substitutesrel="nofollow"
- Oak Ridge Associated Universities: Low Sodium Salt Substitutesrel="nofollow"
- Harvard School of Public Health: Salt Substitutesrel="nofollow"
- Cleveland Clinic: Salt Substitutes--Are They Safe?rel="nofollow"
- Fit Sugar; Salt Substitutes--Healthier Than Salt?rel="nofollow"
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.