Salt Substitutes: Are They Safe?

Discover the pros and cons of using salt substitutes on your food. They may help lower your sodium intake, but are they safe for you?
Q: I’m watching my sodium intake because I have high blood pressure. Is it safe for me to use salt substitutes instead?

A: Yes, probably. However, some salt substitutes are composed of “potassium chloride” (instead of sodium chloride, which is found in regular salt), and extra potassium can be problematic for people who have kidney problems or those who are taking certain medications (such as potassium-sparing diuretics and other common blood pressure medications). Always speak with your physician before sprinkling this type of salt substitute on your food.

Other salt substitutes (such as Mrs. Dash) do not contain potassium chloride. These products are simply salt-free blends of different herbs and seasonings that add flavor to your food. Salt-free seasoning blends that do not contain potassium chloride are safe for everyone to enjoy (if your physician has instructed you to limit your potassium intake, always double-check the ingredients list to make sure there is no added potassium chloride, just to be sure).

You can also experiment with other herbs, spices, and seasonings such as cayenne pepper, garlic powder (not garlic salt), onion powder (not onion salt), cumin, smoked paprika, celery seed (not celery salt), curry powder, wasabi powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, dill, cilantro, thyme, sage, basil, tarragon, chives, lemon and lime juice and zest, wine, flavored vinegars, and extracts (vanilla, almond, etc.).

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