Appointments

866.320.4573

Request an Appointment

Questions

800.223.2273

Contact us with Questions

Expand Content

Salt Substitutes

 

Question: My doctor has restricted me to a 2-gram (2,000-milligram) sodium diet. Are salt substitutes a good way to moderate sodium intake?

Answer: Salt substitutes are not a healthful option for everyone. Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. Potassium consumed in excess may be harmful for some people. For example, many persons with kidney problems are unable to rid their bodies of excessive potassium, which could result in a deadly situation. If you have kidney problems or are on medication for your heart, kidneys or liver, it is best to check with your physician before using salt substitutes in place of sodium.

Otherwise a salt substitute containing potassium chloride is an acceptable alternative in moderation, if you do not have kidney problems and have checked with your physician to be sure it will not interact with any of your medications.

Some salt substitutes that are labeled "lite" or "low sodium" salt still contain sodium just less than amounts than actual table salt. These products often contain a mix of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. If a product is labeled "sodium free" then the main ingredient is potassium chloride with no sodium.

Ideally, the best way to go is completely "Salt Free." Instead of mimicking the taste of sodium with salt substitutes, start experimenting with other more flavorful herbs and spices to add zest to your meals. Try fresh garlic or garlic powder, lemon juice, flavored vinegar, salt-free herb blends, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper, tarragon, oregano and many others to unleash the powerful flavors these salt-free herbs and spices have to offer.

Remember that a 2 gram sodium restriction includes the total sodium in your day - this includes the foods that you eat, not just the seasoning that you add. Be cautious of nutrition labels and keep foods under 140 mg or less which is considered a "low sodium food".

The preference for salt is learned meaning you can unlearn your craving. By reducing your craving for salt you can learn to appreciate new flavors and flavor combinations. Start by adding fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (dried beans, lentils, split peas) into your reduced-sodium diet. Make it a goal to incorporate these naturally low-sodium foods over most convenience foods on a daily basis. Gradually experiment with salt-free herbs and spices into your favorite recipes. Soon you won't even miss the taste for salt.

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

Schedule an Appointment

Toll-free 800.659.7822

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2014 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic

Read the Latest from Our Experts About cctopics » Heart & Vascular Health
Alcohol May Cause You to Develop Irregular Heartbeat
10/30/14 1:45 p.m.
Even in moderation, alcohol may be hard on your heart. A new study finds that having as little as one to three alcoholic drinks each day may increase your risk for atrial f...
by Heart & Vascular Team
You’ve Been Diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer: Now What? (Video)
10/29/14 8:14 a.m.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects our thro...
10 Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol
10/27/14 10:10 a.m.
We all want to be heart-healthy, and ensuring healthy levels of cholesterol — a fat, or lipid, carried through ...
Recipe: Low-Cal Chocolate-Walnut Biscotti
10/24/14 4:00 p.m.
Getting back into baking now that the weather has turned crisp once again? Try our chocolate-walnut biscotti. T...
Why Your Low-T Medications May Not Be Safe
10/23/14 8:31 a.m.
If you’re taking a medication for low testosterone to ward off the effects of aging – such as decreased l...