Your body needs a small amount of sodium to function properly, but too much of it may put your health at risk. In addition, people with kidney disease must restrict sodium intake to help manage their condition. Whether your doctor prescribed a low-sodium diet or you just need to cut back, you'll have to make some adjustments to the way you eat. Salt substitutes are an option. However, some people must avoid potassium chloride -- a common component.
Americans consume, on average, 3400 milligrams of sodium per day, but need less than 2,300 milligrams per day, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. You should take in no more than 1,500 milligrams per day if you have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. This lower limit is also recommended for African-Americans of all ages and people who are 51 years of age or older.
Reasons for Avoiding Potassium Chloride
Some people avoid salt substitutes with potassium chloride because they find the taste unfavorable. However, the main reason you need to avoid potassium chloride is if you have certain health conditions such as kidney failure, Addison's disease, severe burns or other tissue injury. Using salt substitutes with potassium chloride under these circumstances can cause hyperkalemia, which is when the potassium levels in your blood become much higher than normal. This is dangerous and can cause medical complications.
Finding a Suitable Substitute
Because potassium chloride is the most commonly used salt substitute, finding one without it is challenging, but they do exist. Look for the label "potassium-chloride free." You may need to do a bit of trial and error, tasting a few to determine which you like best. Dried seaweed flakes and kelp granules are a couple of options outside of traditional salt substitutes. Onion powder is another option. It's highly concentrated, so you only need a small amount. Be careful not to grab "onion salt" by mistake.
Spice It Up
Season your food with a spice blend you make by combining complimentary flavors. A blend of oregano, basil and marjoram adds vibrant flavor to Italian dishes. Awaken the flavor of Cajun dishes with a blend of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. In general, marjoram, tarragon and oregano is a good combination for poultry. Mixing thyme, coriander, fennel and rosemary works well for seafood, and a blend of garlic, sage and marjoram enhances the flavor of beef.