Salt is a delicious addition to almost any dish, livening up the flavor of everything from meats to veggies. But as you probably know by now, it can also be high in sodium, which can lead to a number of health issues if you consume too much of it over a long period of time. Now, scientists say they’ve found a solution: a potassium-based salt substitution.
Plenty of previous research has shown that eating too much salt can lead to an increased risk of heart problems, stroke, and death, but none of it has really tackled if salt alternatives are any better at preventing these issues. Scientists in China and Australia recently decided to put what’s called a salt substitution to the test in a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Over the course of roughly five years beginning in 2014, they performed a randomized trial with over 20,000 participants who either previously had a stroke or were above the age of 60 and had a history of uncontrolled blood pressure. They gave subjects a salt substitution that contained 75 percent sodium chloride and 25 percent potassium chloride, as opposed to typical selections that are closer to 100 percent sodium chloride.
After checking in periodically over the next five years, they discovered that those who consistently used the substitution were less likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke and also had a lower risk of death. All told, in just the country of China alone, scientists believe that this simple switch could prevent 365,000 strokes and 461,000 premature deaths every year. Moreover, researchers hypothesize that the fact that this swap is so inexpensive could make it easier to implement around the world. “The trial result is particularly exciting because salt substitution is one of the few practical ways of achieving changes in the salt people eat,” said study co-author Bruce Neal, PhD from the George Institute for Global Health. “Other salt reduction interventions have struggled to achieve large and sustained impact.”
If you want to try a similar substitution, you may be able to find one at your local grocery store or buy it online (Buy on Amazon, $8.67). It’s nice to know that such a tiny change can make such a big difference — and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor in the process!