Lower Blood Pressure with Salt Substitutes

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro November 15, 2010
  • Many times a diet high in sodium in linked to hypertension. By reducing the sodium content of your diet you'll promote a lower blood pressure. Salt substitutes can plan a useful role as you work to cut back on the sodium in your diet.


    What are salt substitutes?

     

    Salt substitutes are foods low in sodium, but that still provide the flavor of salt. Salt substitutes frequently contain potassium chloride, which provides a flavor similar to sodium chloride (table salt).


    Potassium Chloride

     

    Salt substitutes containing potassium chloride not only allow you to reduce your daily sodium intake, the potassium itself promotes a lower blood pressure. A study published in the 2001 British Medical Journal found a high potassium diet linked to many health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney damage. Many studies showed an increase in potassium directly associated with a reduction in systolic blood pressure in individuals with high and normal blood pressure levels.

     

    Caution!

     

    While potassium chloride as a salt substitute may be beneficial for many, it can be harmful for some. There are several medical conditions that predispose the development of hyperkalemia (high potassium levels) by impairing the renal excretion of potassium. Some or the conditions that predispose you to hyperkalemia include renal failure, diabetes mellitus, and hypoaldosteronism. Before utilizing potassium chloride as a salt substitute consult with your physician to ensure it's safe for your situation.


    Spices and Herbs

     

    You can make your own salt substitutes by combining dried spices and herbs. Mrs. Dash is a ready to purchase product that provides spice and herb mixes for you ready to use.

     

    If you go this route, just remember these substitutes are not trying to mimic the flavor of salt. Instead you'll be "retraining" your taste buds to enjoy a wide variety of new flavors so your need for the salt shaker decreases.


    Salt Substitutes When Cooking

     

    Spices and herbs or salt substitutes made with potassium chloride both have their place in food preparation. If you are baking foods it is likely potassium chloride products will yield a better result. However, if you are preparing meats, stews, and casseroles a mixture of spices and herbs will do the trick. Experiment to find the flavors you especially enjoy!

     

    Be sure to sign up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure provided by Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson at http://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.