These days, people are paying closer attention to how their food choices affect their health. They're ditching processed food and opting for organic options instead. One smart move many are making is switching from regular table salt to potassium salt. But what is potassium salt, and why should you consider making the switch?
What is potassium salt?
Potassium salt, also known as low-sodium salt or heart salt, is an essential mineral needed for the proper functioning of all body tissues. It’s an electrolyte with the ability to carry an electrical charge. Potassium plays an important role in triggering cellular and nerve processes. Its function is to regulate the optimal fluid balance within our cells.
What is sodium?
Though the words salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Salt (“sodium chloride”) is a crystal-like compound that is common in nature. Sodium, on the other hand, is a mineral and one of the elements within salt.
Salt is made up of roughly 40% sodium and 60% chloride. We use it to add flavour to food and make sure they stay fresh longer. Salt acts as a preservative by stopping bacteria from growing. Our bodies need a bit of sodium to help our nerves work, muscles move, and keep our fluids and minerals in check.
Potassium chloride and sodium chloride look and taste alike. Both potassium and sodium are important for your body to work properly, helping to balance fluids and blood volume. But if you don't get enough potassium and have too much sodium, it can lead to high blood pressure. Potassium is mainly found in veggies, fruits, seafood, and dairy, while sodium is mostly added to packaged and restaurant meals.
How does sodium and potassium affect the body?
Sodium keeps the right amount of fluid outside cells, while potassium helps muscles work and keeps blood pressure normal. When we have more potassium and less sodium in our diet, it can help lower blood pressure. Not having enough potassium, mainly found in fruits and veggies, can also raise blood pressure.
Too much salt raises blood pressure, which can lead to heart issues. But having enough potassium can relax blood vessels, flush out extra salt, and lower blood pressure. Ideally, we should get more potassium than sodium every day, but many of us get more sodium, mainly from processed food consumption.
What is the ideal consumption?
Your body doesn't need a lot of salt, like 1-2 grams a day. But many usually consume around 3,300 milligrams, mostly from processed foods. We also don't get enough potassium, only about 2,900 milligrams a day.
You only need about 500 milligrams of sodium each day for important body functions. Too much salt can be bad for you, causing high blood pressure, heart problems, and strokes. It can even make you lose calcium, which is not good for your bones.
How to transition?
Transitioning to potassium salt can be a beneficial step towards improving your health. Here are some daily tips to help you make the switch:
1. Gradual Incorporation - Slowly introduce potassium salt into your meals. Gradually increase the proportion of potassium salt. This helps your taste buds adjust.
2. Focus on Fresh - Explore different herbs, spices, and seasonings to enhance the flavour of your dishes without relying solely on salt. Fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, and rosemary, as well as spices like cumin, paprika, and turmeric, can add depth and complexity to your meals. Base your diet on whole, fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes.
3. Avoid processed foods - Opt for low-sodium or sodium-free alternatives whenever possible.
4. Meal Preparation - Cook meals at home using fresh ingredients whenever possible. By preparing your meals from scratch, you have more control over the amount of salt you add and can tailor your recipes to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs. Keep an eye on your portion sizes by using measuring tools.
An important thing to note before you change your diet a lot, especially if you have health issues already, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can give you advice that fits your health needs and help you understand if there are any risks with using potassium salt.
Switching to potassium salt is an easy way to boost your health. It cuts down on sodium, which helps your heart and kidneys, and adds variety to your diet. Whether you want to improve your heart health, help your kidneys, or just eat better, using potassium salt can help. Start making healthier choices today by trying out potassium salt. It's a simple change that can have a big impact on your life.
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Harvard T.H. Chan. (n.d.). Potassium. Retrieved on 06 Feb 2024 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/#:~:text=Potassium%20is%20found%20naturally%20in,and%20supports%20normal%20blood%20pressure.
CDC. (n.d.). Potassium Salt. Retrieved on 06 Feb 2024 from https://www.cdc.gov/salt/potassium.htm
The Conversation. (n.d.). Heart Salt. Retrieved on 06 Feb 2024 from https://theconversation.com/this-salt-alternative-could-help-reduce-blood-pressure-so-why-are-so-few-people-using-it-221409
ABC News. (n.d.). Potassium Salt. Retrieved on 06 Feb 2024 from
Heart Foundation. (n.d.). Hear Salt. Retrieved on 06 Feb 2024 from https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/healthy-living-and-eating/salt-and-heart-health