Jan 16, 2023 The Lowdown on Salt Substitutes: A Registered Dietitian Weighs In

Aliz Alaman, RDN, CDE, a registered dietitian at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, says there are many alternatives to salt.

Are all salt substitutes the same?

No, salt substitutes vary. The term “salt substitutes” typically refers to alternatives to salt (sodium chloride) that contain varying amounts of potassium chloride. Some salt substitutes contain no sodium chloride and all potassium chloride, while others contain a reduced amount of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. Potassium chloride has a “salty” taste, though in large amounts it may taste bitter.

Are salt substitutes versatile enough to use in recipes?

Versatility depends on the specific salt substitute and the individual’s preferences. In cooking, some people may notice a bitter taste, particularly with the sodium-free varieties. As for baking, sodium is necessary for certain chemical reactions to occur, so the sodium-free varieties do affect the final product.

Are there any side effects or health concerns regarding salt substitutes?

Yes, people with certain health conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and heart failure may have difficulty eliminating excess potassium from their blood. Also, consumption of potassium chloride salt substitutes can raise blood potassium to unsafe levels in individuals on certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors, potassium-sparing diuretics and angiotensin-receptor blockers.

What else can be used in place of salt to season food?

There are many salt-free seasoning blends that can add flavor. Single spices like black pepper, garlic and cumin can add flavor without sodium, as can fresh herbs like parsley, dill and basil. Many herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory and other health benefits.