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Salt without Sodium?

Recently, My mom bought a new packet of salt. In our house, as long as I remember we’ve been using the local sea salt packets from companies that no one would even care to remember, but this one was from a huge Indian conglomerate. Also It costed more than four times the local ones did.

So naturally I was tempted to take a peep at what is so special with this one, after all it’s just sodium chloride right???

Other than the reputed brand name, it seems there is another factor to this one costing a lot more than it’s peers.

Below the brand name, it was written that this had “reduced sodium”. Weird, if what I have learnt in my chemistry classes are right, you can’t have Sodium Chloride(Edible salt) without Sodium! The salt we season our food with is 40% sodium and the rest is Chloride, Na+Cl . That’s basic chemistry. So if you have to reduce the amount of Sodium, you have to reduce Chloride along with it, and that’s essentially reducing the total amount of salt, right?

But before answering that question, why this much hatred for the poor chap Sodium? What did he do wrong?

low sodium sign

The Fault in our Salt :

Sodium is essential for our body, it is an electrolyte. Our cells need sodium to transport stuff in and out of them. Our nervous system needs sodium too. But as my Toxicology teacher says again and again “Everything is toxic, it is the dose that matters”.

Yes Sodium is very essential to us, but it can be toxic when consumed in excess. The FDA recommended Sodium intake level is 2300 milligram per day (approx. 1 tsp). Excess sodium intake is related to increased risk of heart diseases. That is what the FDA says…

The science supporting the relationship between sodium reduction and health is clear: When sodium intake increases, blood pressure increases, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – two leading causes of death in the U.S. (CDC has compiled a number of key studies, which continue to support the benefits of sodium reduction in lowering blood pressure. In some of these studies, researchers have estimated lowering U.S. sodium intake by about 40 percent over the next decade could save 500,000 lives and nearly $100 billion in healthcare costs.)

So granted, just like every other thing, too much sodium is bad. But how does this sodium reduction thing work?

Sodium Reduction :

Turns out there is a way to have salt without sodium(well not exactly). Brands like the one we discussed use a different compound along with Sodium chloride. This compound tastes just the same as the common edible salt(sodium chloride). The compound is Potassium Chloride. Companies that advertise sodium reduction usually sell a mixture of both Sodium chloride and potassium chloride. NaCl and KCl. They sell an 85:15 mixture of NaCl and KCl. That way you get your salty seasoning, you get not too much and not too little sodium and along with that you get Potassium which is another important electrolyte, it keeps your heart beating. It’s a pretty neat way to reduce the amount of sodium we eat, and at the same time give us potassium. All rosy isn’t it? Some people disagree.

In some parts of the world, Potassium chloride has a reputation for itself as the preferred lethal injection to execute death row prisoners. And so these people argue that adding potassium chloride is like adding poison to salt. But all I can hear is my toxicology teacher saying, again and again “Everything is toxic, it is the dose that matters”.

I don’t believe anybody would die of potassium chloride poisoning, unless they had a death wish and ate this salt instead of food. So don’t be afraid to use reduced sodium salts, just remember what my toxicology teacher says again and again, “Everything is toxic, it is the dose that matters”.

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