Salt is important for vital functions in our body and we need at least 500 mg of it to promote heart health, balance electrolytes, ensure a healthy nervous system and to stay hydrated. Salt is also an essential component to add flavour to our food and this is the reason we go overboard with it, adding it to our salads, snacks, and nearly everything that we eat. However, an adult must not eat more than 6g of salt (2.4 gm sodium) a day which is around 1 teaspoon. Avoiding processed foods, readymade sauces, chutneys and pickles, checking food labels, and using herbs and spices to flavour food are some of the ways to avoid excess salt intake. (Also read: Too much salt can increase risk of these deadly diseases)
Consuming too much salt can affect our health in many ways. A high-sodium diet can be problematic for your kidneys which in turn can play havoc with your blood pressure and cause heart disease and stroke. It can also lead to calcium loss from your bones. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine people who consumed high-sodium, low-potassium diets had a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or any cause.
In another study researchers in Queen Mary University of London found that reducing salt intake by 1g could lower the risk for ischaemic heart disease by 4% and the risk of stroke by 6%.
Nutritionist Lovneet Batra in her recent Instagram post talked about the salt-substitutes that could help reduce sodium intake and are brilliant at flavouring food.
“There’s good reason to seek out salt alternatives from time to time. Going overboard over salt affects more than just your taste buds but can lead to a host of serious health problems since salt is the No. 1 culprit of bloat and water retention besides being a major contributor to high blood pressure,” wrote Lovneet Batra in her Insta post.
Batra also suggests low-sodium alternatives for those trying to cut back salt intake:
1. LEMON JUICE OR ZEST
Lemon juice/zest are an excellent salt substitute. As a source of acid, lemon juice acts similarly to salt by bringing out the flavours of a dish. Meanwhile, lemon zest contributes an even more potent citrus flavour.
We now know that most of these health effects are due to a compound called allicin, which is also responsible for garlic’s distinct smell. Garlic causes significant reductions in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Garlic boosts flavour without increasing sodium content.
3. GROUND BLACK PEPPER
With its subtle heat and bold flavour, it’s versatile and can enhance almost any savoury dish. Plus, black pepper may decrease inflammation that’s linked to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Dill boasts a distinct lemony-sweet, slightly bitter flavour. Flavonoids, like those found in dill, have been shown to protect heart health due to their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
5. MANGO POWDER (AMCHUR)
Amchur, which is also known as mango powder, is one such spice. Loaded with antioxidants, amchur powder is a great alternative to salt. Amchur powder has versatile uses and can be added to soups, chutneys, curries, dals, and more.