Too much salt can be bad for your health, but can salt substitutes help your blood pressure? Learn how they affect your heart health.
If you have a history of high blood pressure and are over the age of 60, salt substitutes may help. According to a new study available in the New England Journal of Medicine, salt substitutes lower the risk of stroke.
The research took place in 600 villages in rural areas of China and included nearly 21,000 participants. Not only did participants replace salt with substitutes, but they were also encouraged to use it more sparingly than salt. Dr. Bruce Neal, a professor at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, said this to the press:
“This study provides clear evidence about an intervention that could be taken up very quickly at very low cost. We have now shown that it is effective and these are the benefits for China alone. Salt substitution could be used by billions more with even greater benefits.” Neal was also a principal investigator in the study.
Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, FAAC, a cardiologist based in Minneapolis and founder of Step One Foods, said this regarding the study: “Although I wish I could say [the research applies to countries beyond China], it’s more realistic to say probably no.”
The study may not apply to other populations since it focuses on high-risk populations (eg.: those with high blood pressure). Moreover, its participants are from “a unique genetic/cultural group with specific dietary habits/patterns,” says Klodas.
While most meals are cooked from scratch in rural China, Americans consume a lot of processed and pre-prepared foods. In other words, the study participants have much more control over their sodium intake than people in the U.S.
Moreover, Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center, explains that substitutes come with a price:
“Potassium chloride as a substitute is a problem,” Gomer says. “As we age, our kidney function naturally slows. We measure kidney function by glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. Our kidneys are our filtering device. So the natural aging process will slow GFR, and putting potassium directly on foods as a seasoning will negatively affect this.”
While salt substitutes may help some people, Gomer instead recommends that we use herbs to enhance the taste of food. While it may take a while to adjust to less salt, you can eat foods that are naturally sodium-free like fruits and vegetables.
If you also want to give your blood pressure an extra boost, you can take supplements like L-arginine Plus. It contains ingredients that effectively promote circulation, blood pressure health, cholesterol, and more.
Give your blood pressure the support it needs and take L-arginine Plus along with healthy foods and sodium-free options.