On our quest to healthiness we can end up doing crazy stuff; from trying wild exercise regimes to stocking our fridge with the latest superfoods or substituting every nutrient that we believe to be “bad” with a “healthier” option.
Salt is without a doubt one of those ingredients that has (wrongly) been in the bad books for a long, long time which has resulted in some people turning to salt substitutes. You can read about some of the myths surrounding salt here.
Sure, salt substitutes are low in sodium however, there are a few key things we all need to know about these so-called healthier options.
Salt substitutes are mainly composed of potassium chloride. In fact, finding one that doesn’t contain this can be very challenging, making these types of salt substitutes rather dangerous, particularly if you suffer from kidney problems or hypertension.
High levels of potassium in the body, also known as hyperkalemia, can cause irritability, abdominal cramps, anxiety, muscle weakness and can lead to cardiac problems.
Also, potassium chloride-based salt substitutes tend to have a rather bitter, metallic taste. Is that what you really want your meals to taste like?
What about MSG?
MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a flavour-enhancing food additive that can also be used as a salt substitute. MSG is rather controversial though as it can cause allergy-like symptoms and side effects from nausea, headaches and sweating to chest pains and heart palpitations.
Not everyone is sensitive to MSG, but it can be a rather unpleasant experience finding out if you are or not. That said, although MSG has been generally recognised as a safe option it is not recommended for children.
As with many things in life, moderation rather than substitution seems to be the best approach. If you have been advised to watch your sodium levels then do so by sticking to a healthier diet. Don’t go experimenting with odd ingredients or flavour-enhancers as they can be more damaging than you think.