Salt substitutes are low-sodium table salt alternatives marketed to circumvent the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease associated with a high intake of sodium chloride while maintaining a similar taste.
The leading salt substitutes are non-sodium table salts, which have their tastes as a result of compounds other than sodium chloride. Non-sodium salts reduce daily sodium intake and reduce the health effects of this element.
- carnallite (KMgCl3 x 6H2O)
- kainite (KCl x MgSO4 x 2H2O)
- langbeinite (K2Mg2 (SO4) 2)
- sylvite (KCl)
- polyhalite (K2MgCa2 (SO4) 4.x 2H20)
- kieserite (MgSO4 x H2O)
In practice, potassium chloride (also known as potassium salt) is most commonly used. Its toxicity for a healthy person is approximately equal to that of table salt (the LD50 is about 2.5 g/kg, or approximately 190 g for a person weighing 75 kg). Potassium lactate may also be used to reduce sodium levels in food products and is commonly used in meat and poultry products. The recommended daily allowance of potassium is higher than that for sodium, yet a typical person consumes less potassium than sodium in a given day. Potassium chloride has a bitter aftertaste when used in higher proportions, which consumers may find unpalatable. Hydrolyzed protein or 5'-nucleotides are sometimes added to potassium chloride to improve the flavour of salt substitutes.
Various diseases and medications may decrease the body's excretion of potassium, thereby increasing the risk of potentially fatal hyperkalemia. People with kidney failure, heart failure, or diabetes are not recommended to use salt substitutes without medical advice. LoSalt, a salt substitute manufacturer, has issued an advisory statement that people taking the following prescription drugs should not use a salt substitute: amiloride, triamterene, Dytac, captopril and other angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, spironolactone, and eplerenone.
Salt substitutes can also be further enriched with the essential nutrients. A salt substitute can, analogously to the problem of iodine deficiency, help to eliminate the "hidden hunger" (i.e. insufficient supply of necessary micronutrients such and iron or other micronutrients). Such substances are promoted by UNICEF as a "super-salt".
Low sodium diet
According to current WHO guidelines, adults should consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day (i.e. about 5 grams of traditional table salt), and at least 3,510 mg of potassium per day. However, both adults and children in Europe consume about twice as much traditional salt as recommended by experts.
People struggling with elevated sodium or low potassium levels may be at risk for hypertension, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. International studies covering hundreds of thousands of people estimate that the number of deaths that can be attributed to excessive sodium intake reaches at least 1.65 million people a year. Hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis are some of the severe health effects and complications resulting from excessive intake of traditional salt (sodium chloride). After many approaches to deal with this serious public health problem, researchers and government officials state that a significant step forward cannot be made without a wide adoption of non-sodium salt both in daily use and as a part of the manufacturing process. It is impossible to achieve this goal with a lack of sufficient products that would combine similar tastes, low sodium levels, and a high amount of desired nutrients.
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