A salt substitute by AlsoSalt

A salt substitute, also known as low-sodium salt, is a low-sodium alternative to edible salt (table salt) marketed to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease associated with a high intake of sodium chloride[1] 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.

Low sodium diet

Main article: Low sodium diet

According to current WHO guidelines,[2][3] 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.[4] In Europe, adults and children consume about twice as much sodium as recommended by experts.[5]


In 2021, a large randomised controlled trial of 20,995 older people in China found that use of a potassium salt substitute in home cooking over a five-year period reduced the risk of stroke by 14%, major cardiovascular events by 13% and all-cause mortality by 12% compared to use of regular table salt.[6]

The study found no significant difference in hyperkalaemia between the two groups, though people with serious kidney disease were excluded from the trial. The salt substitute used was 25% potassium chloride and 75% sodium chloride.

A 2022 Cochrane review of 26 trials involving salt substitutes found their use probably slightly reduces blood pressure, non-fatal stroke, non-fatal acute coronary syndrome and heart disease death in adults compared to use of regular table salt.[7] A separate systematic review and meta-analysis published in the same year of 21 trials involving salt substitutes found protective effects of salt substitute on total mortality, cardiovascular mortality and cardiovascular events.[8]



Potassium closely resembles the saltiness of sodium. In practice, potassium chloride (also known as potassium salt) is the most commonly used salt substitute. 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.[9] The recommended daily allowance of potassium is higher than that for sodium,[10] yet a typical person consumes less potassium than sodium in a given day.[11] Potassium chloride has a bitter aftertaste when used in higher proportions, which consumers may find unpalatable. As a result, some formulations only replace half the sodium chloride with potassium.[12]

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[13] 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.

Other types

Sodium malate is salty in taste and may be blended with other salt substitutes. Although it contains sodium, the mass fraction is lower.[14]

Monosodium glutamate is often used as a substitute to salt in processed and restaurant food, due to its salty taste and low sodium content compared to table salt, and can also be used effectively in home cooking.[15][16]

Seaweed granules are also marketed as alternatives to salt.[17]

Dehydrated, pulverized Salicornia (glasswort, marsh samphire) is sold under the brand name "Green Salt" as a salt substitute claimed to be as salty in taste as table salt, but with less sodium.[18][19]


Historically (late 20th century), many substances containing magnesium and potassium have been tried as salt substitutes. They include:[20][21]

Even further back in the early 20th century, lithium chloride was used as a salt substitute for those with hypertension. However, overdosing was common and deaths have occurred, leading to its prohibition in 1949.[22]


Flavor enhancers, although not true salt alternatives, help reduce the use of salt by enhancing the savory flavor (umami).[23] Hydrolyzed protein[24] or 5'-nucleotides[25] are sometimes added to potassium chloride to improve the flavour of salt substitutes. Fish sauce has the same effect.[26]

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 as iron.[27][28] Such substances are promoted by UNICEF as a "super-salt".[29]

See also


  1. ^ Salt and Health (PDF). Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN)
  2. ^ "WHO issues new guidance on dietary salt and potassium" (Press release). WHO. 31 January 2013.
  3. ^ World Health Organization (2012). Guideline. Sodium intake for adults and children. Geneva, Switzerland. ISBN 978-92-4-150483-6. OCLC 849715509.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ Jarosz, Mirosław; Rychlik, Ewa; Stoś, Katarzyna; Wierzejska, Regina; Wojtasik, Anna; Charzewska, Jadwiga; Mojska, Hanna; Szponar, Lucjan; Sajór, Iwona (2017). Normy żywienia dla populacji Polski (in Polish). Warszawa: Instytut Żywności i Żywienia. ISBN 978-83-86060-89-4. OCLC 1022820929.
  5. ^ Powles, John; Fahimi, Saman; Micha, Renata; Khatibzadeh, Shahab; Shi, Peilin; Ezzati, Majid; Engell, Rebecca E.; Lim, Stephen S.; Danaei, Goodarz; Mozaffarian, Dariush; Group (NutriCoDE), on behalf of the Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert (2013-12-01). "Global, regional and national sodium intakes in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis of 24 h urinary sodium excretion and dietary surveys worldwide". BMJ Open. 3 (12): e003733. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003733. ISSN 2044-6055. PMC 3884590. PMID 24366578.
  6. ^ Neal B, Wu Y, Feng X, Zhang R, Zhang Y, Shi J; et al. (2021). "Effect of Salt Substitution on Cardiovascular Events and Death". N Engl J Med. 385 (12): 1067–1077. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2105675. hdl:10044/1/92012. PMID 34459569.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Brand A, Visser ME, Schoonees A, Naude CE (2022). "Replacing salt with low-sodium salt substitutes (LSSS) for cardiovascular health in adults, children and pregnant women". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 (8): CD015207. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD015207. PMC 9363242. PMID 35944931.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Yin X, Rodgers A, Perkovic A, Huang L, Li KC, Yu J; et al. (2022). "Effects of salt substitutes on clinical outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Heart. 108 (20): 1608–1615. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2022-321332. PMID 35945000. S2CID 251468854.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) Review in: Brophy, James (2022). "In the general population, salt substitutes vs. Regular salt reduce BP levels, CV outcomes, and mortality". Annals of Internal Medicine. 175 (12): JC139. doi:10.7326/J22-0091. PMID 36469919. S2CID 254247591.
  9. ^ Low sodium meat products. http://www.corbion.com/
  10. ^ "Dietary Reference Intakes : Electrolytes and Water" (PDF). The National Academies. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 October 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  11. ^ Caggiula, AW; RR Wing; MP Nowalk; NC Milas; S Lee; H Langford (1985). "The measurement of sodium and potassium intake". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 42 (3): 391–398. doi:10.1093/ajcn/42.3.391. PMID 4036845. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  12. ^ Drake, S. L.; Drake, M. A. (2011). "Comparison of Salty Taste and Time Intensity of Sea and Land Salts from Around the World". Journal of Sensory Studies. 26 (1): 25–34. doi:10.1111/j.1745-459X.2010.00317.x. ISSN 1745-459X.
  13. ^ LoSalt Advisory Statement (PDF)
  14. ^ Whitmore, Frank C. (2012). Organic Chemistry, Volume One : Part I: Aliphatic Compounds (2nd ed.). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. p. 397. ISBN 978-0-486-31115-9.
  15. ^ Inc, Bright Tribe. "MSG in Cooking". The Glutamate Association. Retrieved 2022-08-18. ((cite web)): |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ Maluly, Hellen D. B.; Arisseto-Bragotto, Adriana P.; Reyes, Felix G. R. (November 2017). "Monosodium glutamate as a tool to reduce sodium in foodstuffs: Technological and safety aspects". Food Science & Nutrition. 5 (6): 1039–1048. doi:10.1002/fsn3.499. PMC 5694874. PMID 29188030.
  17. ^ "Seaweed granules may replace salt in foods". foodnavigator.com. 22 September 2008.
  18. ^ Florence Fabricant, "To Sprinkle: Add Some Green To Your Salt Lineup", New York Times, August 11, 2021, p. D3; online version "Add Green to Your Salt Lineup" August 9, 2021
  19. ^ Green Salt web site
  20. ^ Lifton, R. P. (1995-09-12). "Genetic determinants of human hypertension". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 92 (19): 8545–8551. Bibcode:1995PNAS...92.8545L. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.19.8545. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 41004. PMID 7567973.
  21. ^ Dahl, Lewis K.; Heine, Martha; Thompson, Keith (January 1974). "Genetic Influence of the Kidneys on Blood Pressure: Evidence from Chronic Renal Homografts in Rats with Opposite Predispositions to Hypertension". Circulation Research. 34 (1): 94–101. doi:10.1161/01.RES.34.1.94. ISSN 0009-7330. PMID 4588315.
  22. ^ Marmol, F. (2008). "Lithium: Bipolar disorder and neurodegenerative diseases Possible cellular mechanisms of the therapeutic effects of lithium". Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 32 (8): 1761–1771. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2008.08.012. PMID 18789369. S2CID 25861243.
  23. ^ Lubin, Gus (2 February 2017). "Everyone should cook with MSG, says food scientist". Business Insider. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  24. ^ United States Patent 4451494
  25. ^ United States Patent 4243691
  26. ^ Huynh, Hue Linh; Danhi, Robert; Yan, See Wan (27 November 2015). "Using Fish Sauce as a Substitute for Sodium Chloride in Culinary Sauces and Effects on Sensory Properties". Journal of Food Science. 81 (1): S150–S155. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13171. PMID 26613570.
  27. ^ Afshin, Ashkan; Sur, Patrick John; Fay, Kairsten A.; Cornaby, Leslie; Ferrara, Giannina; Salama, Joseph S; Mullany, Erin C; Abate, Kalkidan Hassen; Abbafati, Cristiana; Abebe, Zegeye; Afarideh, Mohsen (May 2019). "Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017". The Lancet. 393 (10184): 1958–1972. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30041-8. PMC 6899507. PMID 30954305.
  28. ^ Das, Jai K; Salam, Rehana A; Kumar, Rohail; Bhutta, Zulfiqar A (December 2013). "Micronutrient fortification of food and its impact on woman and child health: a systematic review". Systematic Reviews. 2 (1): 67. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-2-67. ISSN 2046-4053. PMC 3765883. PMID 23971426.
  29. ^ "VITAMIN & MINERAL DEFICIENCY: A GLOBAL PROGRESS REPORT" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-01-26. Retrieved 2019-10-25.