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Healthier Salt Substitutes

As I discuss in my video Shaking the Salt Habit, the two most prominent dietary risks for death and disability in the world are not eating enough fruit and eating too much salt. Eating too little fruit kills nearly five million people every year, and eating too much salt kills four million.

There are three things we can do to lower our salt intake. First, don’t add salt at the table. One third of us add salt to our food before even tasting it! Second, stop adding salt while you’re cooking. At first, the food may taste bland, but within two to four weeks, “as the sensitivity of the salt taste receptors in the mouth become more sensitive to the taste of salt in the usual concentrations”—believe it or not—you may actually prefer the taste of food with less salt. Some of the flavorings you can use in the meanwhile instead of salt include “pepper, onion, garlic, tomato, sweet pepper, basil, parsley, thyme, celery, lime, chilli, nettle, rosemary, smoke flavoring, curry, coriander and lemon.” Even if you did add salt while cooking, though, it’s probably better than eating out, where even at non-fast food restaurants, they tend to pile it on. And, finally, avoid processed foods that have salt added.

In most countries, only about half of sodium intake comes from processed foods, so there’s more personal responsibility. In the United States, however, even if we completely stopped adding salt in the kitchen and dining room, it would only bring down salt intake a small fraction. This has led public health commentators to note how challenging it is for everyone to reduce their salt intake, since so much of our sodium intake is out of our control. But is it? We don’t have to buy all those processed foods. We can choose not to turn over our family’s health to food corporations that may not have our best interests at heart.

If we do buy processed foods, there are two tricks we can use. First, try to only buy foods with fewer milligrams of sodium listed on the label than there are grams in the serving size. So, if it’s a 100-gram serving size, it should have less than 100 mg of sodium. Or, second, shoot for fewer milligrams of sodium than there are calories. For example, if the sodium is listed as 720 and calories are 260, since 720 is greater than 260, the product has too much sodium.

That’s a trick I learned from Jeff Novick, one of my favorite dieticians of all time. The reason it works is that most people get about 2,200 calories a day. So, if everything you ate had more calories than sodium, you’d at least get under 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is the upper limit for healthy people under age 50. Of course, the healthiest foods have no labels at all. We should try to buy as much fresh food as possible because it is almost impossible to come up with a diet consisting of unprocessed natural foodstuffs that exceeds the strict American Heart Association guidelines for sodium reduction.

Not eating enough fruit as a leading killer? For more, see my video Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries.

In my latest sodium series, I lay out the evidence and dive into the manufactured controversy to expose salt industry shenanigans. See:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

100 responses to “Healthier Salt Substitutes

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    1. Do you mean the whole molecule of table salt (NaCl) or only the natrium in it when you’re talking about milligrams? To my mind table salt consists of 39% natrium (sodium). And what is your opinion on KCl as a substitute for NaCl?

      1. Hotze,

        It’s the total molecule of salt, not the sodium exclusively for the numeric. In terms of chloride intake… an interesting study looking at the substitution found:

        “In conclusion, the number of Norwegians facing increased risk is far greater than the number likely to benefit from this replacement of sodium with potassium in industrially produced food.”

        The key here is the use of a foods additive vs a WF approach with minimal additions to our foods, save for some of the other veggies and herbal additions for flavor mentioned in the text.

        For further reference in terms of the sodium and chloride intake, you might find this reference helpful: speaking of amounts and findings from other countries

        Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

    1. Mr. Fumblefingers, you are right about the salt content of bread — it’s high. It’s added to bread dough to slow down the fermentation/proofing process (during which incredible flavors develop), increase gluten strength, and add flavor. I make sourdough whole grain bread (I even grind my grains at home), and I’ve cut the salt by half, but it’s still a lot.

  1. With all due respect, show us the evidence! Your video on salt shows us what to do but you show NOTHING about double blind clinical trials between those who eat a reasonable amount of salt (2,000-5,000 mg/day) and those who eat less.
    You also say “eat less” as of less is universally better regardless of how much I’m eating. Again show me the science.
    My reading indicates that either extreme (below 1500mg and above 6500mg can be bad for most people. There are, admittedly, those who are salt sensitive but I assert they are few and far between and it’s not been shown that eating 2000-5000 mg/day is harmful in a properly controlled study without confounding variables (the amount of fat being the most important one).

    1. Leslie, you raise the question of fat but you don’t specify. There’s a huge difference between animal fat and plant fat. It’s almost as misleading as lumping all carbs when simple carbs (sugars) are the problem, not broccoli.

      1. Joesph:
        I respectfully disagree. “Evidence” that things like coconut oil are good for you does not come from good science. For example, when you look at the studies on coconut oil listed under lectures on Weston-Price websitesuch catagory, you find animal studies and SOME population studies. To my knowledge, they list 2. In one, people eat a mostly plant-based diet including some coconut and live long healthy lives. In the other, they die much earlier. I’d love to see sound evidence that adding fat is useful.

        1. I wasn’t even thinking of coconut oil (or palm oil). I was thinking of avocados, olives, and soy products. Also, one can’t absorb many of the nutrients from vegetables unless they’re eaten with fat.

          1. This is simply not true, eating fruit and veg without fat is a much better way to get maximum intake of nutrients, when you add fat it slows down the liver function.

              1. Fruits and vegetables naturally contain fat which aids nutrient digestion. I think Sunyvego is talking about added fats like oils and sold fats and very high fat plant foods like avocados etc

                1. Check it out Tom. Fruits and vegetables are almost totally devoid of fat, just trace amounts, at best. And many of the vital nutrients in fruits and vegetables require fat to be absorbed, e.g., lycopene and carotenoids, both crucially important, are fat soluble. WebMD and others suggest oil or even butter. Yuk! Just a yummy 1/2 avocado does the trick.

                  1. Thanks Joseph.

                    Yrs, I know that many fruits and vegetables are low in fat but it depends what you are eating. For example, I eat oats every day and they are 14% fat (by calories). So are chickpeas for that matter, while ordinary green peas are 4%. Eat soybeans with your rice/potatoes/salad instead and they are 39%

                    What is more, fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. Our gut uses the fibre to produce significant quantities of short chain fatty acids So, if you are eating plenty of (leafy green) vegetables and fruit, you are getting plenty of fat. It’s just that not all of it is dietary. The body itself produces a range of fatty acids. As you know, there are only two fatty acids that the body doesn’t produce – the essential fatty acids.

                    You may be right though that adding fat in the way that you do maximises nutrient absorption. I haven’t checked it out. However, there’s also the risk that it also maximises, say, iron absorption (not necessarily a good thing for men at least) and absorption of eg lead, arsenic, cadmium etc. Maximising absorption may not be the same thing as optimising absorption. The body seems to have some built-in mechanisms to prevent overdosing on certain vitamins and minerals. I wonder if ‘hacks’ like adding fat to meals to maximise nutrient absorption might do more harm than good by circumventing such mechanisms.

                    My own opinion is that a varied WFPD diet probably optimises nutrition without the need for the measures that you apply. However, I could well be wrong and I don’t think there is any good evidence either way. As far as I can see, you, me and Sunnyvego are basing our beliefs on chains of reasoning propped up here and there by a number of studies that illuminate certain aspects of the question..

                    1. Hi Tom! Thanks for the intelligent discussion. I wonder if the fatty acids churned in the colon from fiber are transported back to the small intestine to absorb nutrients from vegetables and fruit. The articles I had read about relevant studies stated that fat had to be consumed at the same time as the vegetables and fruit. I don’t think many would eat fat with a grapefruit. But the say, oatmeal following the grapefruit may work.
                      I don’t ascribe to the notion that in itself, variety in a WFPB diet is enough. I wouldn’t want to put words in your mouth, and you haven’t said this, but it seems to me that the foundation for the variety hypothesis seems rooted in the notion that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate that way which makes it the paradigm for today. For a variety of reasons, mainly lack of connection, I don’t think it’s a valid paradigm for today and deny it.
                      I agree that the best we can do is to correlate available information to increase the probability of our conclusions. Certainty in this world is far and few between.

    2. Addendum to my comment above: the American Hearr Association recommends “no more than 2300mg” and “1500 or less for most adults.” Where does that evidence come from for those who don’t have high blood pressure.
      I’m 62 and my blood pressure runs approx 110/65 and has for my entire life! I stopped “restricting” salt about 3 years ago. I don’t eat processed foods; eat animal food 3-6 times/month and don’t use processed oils.

      1. The general idea here is that you would be getting all the sodium you need when you limit yourself to fresh plant based foods. Sodium as per nature is sufficient.

        Salt is also damaging to your cardiovascular system regardless of it’s effect on blood pressure. There is no reason at all to add anything above the amounts of sodium you would be getting from eating nothing but whole foods.

      2. Leslie Kasanoff, you may want to take a look at a video on this site called, “Sodium & Arterial Function: A-salting our Endothelium.” I tried to post the link for 4 times, but my comment never posted, but you can use the search option above to find it.

        It explains how salt can impair endothelial function independent of blood pressure.And as with this video, the studies mentioned are all linked.

        Netgogate is right. There’s no need for added salt. Whole plant foods have enough sodium to meet dietary needs.

          1. YR & Deb, I was tired of the sunflower and have been trying to change it for the longest time but couldn’t get into my account for some odd reason. I finally had to get help from someone at NF & had time do change it over the weekend.

        1. Nancy,

          I didn’t recognize who you were until I took a second look. Nice to see you!

          Yes, Dr Greger already did show the evidence of his position.

      3. Hi Leslie – In one sense I would disagree that have have stopped restricting salt if you don’t eat processed foods, which is by far where Americans get most of their sodium. High blood pressure doesn’t happen over night, just like lung cancer doesn’t happen over night to people that smoke. Some smokers apparently have the “right” genes and never have to deal with lung cancer no matter how much they smoke. I believe it may be a similar situation with sodium and High blood pressure. There are other studies showing dangers of too much sodium beyond its effect on blood pressure. (Here’s one on cardiovascular risk: There are also studies that suggest increased risk for Osteoporosis, gastric cancer, asthma, etc. If you like salt, and are either unwilling to accept that there are risks, or you are willing to accept the known risks, then by all means go for it. However, even though you have yet to find the double-blinded, placebo controlled studies you are looking for (these are not always possible due to ethical reasons), there is a lot to be cautious about based on the other evidence we do have suggesting too much sodium isn’t good for us.

        1. Yes, Americans consume far too much salt. But I wonder how far we’re falling into reduction, what Dr. Campbell (China Study) cites as a major failure of modern day medicine. The one thing that’s bad or the one thing that’s good. The magic bullet syndrome. Maybe just cutting back on salt isn’t good enough. Maybe the true way is to rethink our entire diet. After doing a lot of research on this question, I long since came to believe that adopting a strict WFPB diet, with no sweeteners and no flour is a good start. And it worked.

      4. Hello again Leslie,
        I missed this comment when I responded to your original comment, so most of the information is in that post. The AHA recommendations come from many of the studies reviewed in the video on my previous reply. That’s great that you have a very healthy blood pressure! You’re doing well by eliminating processed foods and oils and you may be genetically gifted as well when it comes to blood pressure; however, the information from pertains to the larger population. Not everyone will be able to include salt in their diet and maintain such a great blood pressure, but there are certainly a lucky few. To put it into perspective, the vast majority of people who smoke do not get lung cancer, and some live well into their 80s and 90s, but that doesn’t mean we would recommend it to anybody knowing that it puts you at risk.

        If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to comment here on and one of our Health Support Volunteers will be happy to assist.

        Matt, Health Support Volunteer

    3. Leslie

      There’s a gazillion reports out there on this point. Read them if that is your particular interest. There are also more videos/blogs on this site dealing with that topic. Watch/read them. Greger doesn’t need to repeat them here because it’s a blog post about salt substitutes after all

      Unfortunately industry interests and individuals directly or indirectly associated with them continue to muddy the water with confounded observational studies (or even sometimes carefully designed experimental studies).

      Some basic discussions and references to more detailed reports/studies are here

    4. Leslie,

      It has been shown that even one meal with salt causes endothelial problems.

      It hurts the arteries. They have demonstrated that in studies.

    5. Hello Leslie,
      Thank you for viewing our content and I will try to clear up the confusion for you.
      I am not sure which video on salt you have watched, but there are plenty on topic and if you ever want to view a topic specifically, you can click the video library tab at the top left of your screen and select “browse videos by topic”. Below I have linked the video on the evidence that salt raises blood pressure where Dr. Greger highlights both randomized controlled trials and observational studies demonstrating that reducing salt intake to below the AHA recommendations of 1500mg leads to ideal blood pressure readings. You mentioned that you’ve read studies showing low sodium intake leading to negative health outcomes as well. While some do exist, they are often on people using salt wasting drugs who do not benefit from further lowering salt intake or they use data from studies that were plagued with measurement error, confounding, and reverse causality. Dr. Greger discusses all of this in the second video linked below.
      I encourage you to review the videos (and subsequent articles) linked below to come to your own conclusion on the salt debate and I hope you found this information helpful.

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

      Evidence that Salt increases blood pressure:
      The Salt Debate:

      1. Sodium or salt is an element that is already in natural plant foods. You don’t need to add additional salt to reach the RDA. Healthwise, no added salt is the prefered option.

    1. You’d be hard pressed finding anyone who eats enough calories without getting sufficient sodium as the minimal requirement is set at 500 mg by the AHA.

    2. I for one almost died from low blood sodium.

      But I’ve belabored my hyponatremia saga in earlier salt videos, so shan’t go into it yet again..

  2. Most of my food does not have a label, so that’s a good start. My question: do you differentiate between the regular white table salt and the natural Himalyian pink salt? I have read in different articles that the Himalyian salt has micro nutrients which are good for us. What is your take on this?

    Hope you are doing well,
    Barbara, Omri’s mom from Israel

    1. Thanks Barbara Paz…..I also would like to know about Himalyian pink salt? I have been using it in all my foods for the past 2 years and I’m not shy with it. I don’t see/feel any issues so far. I occasional use some sea salt when boiling water for veggies, rice, quinoa…etc.
      Thanks for the article.

    2. Himalayan/Celtic/Sea salt are all just clever marketing strategies designed to get people to buy hideously overpriced salt.

      In any case, the key issue is sodium not salt as such. The sodium content is why salt is problematic, Sodium is about 40% sodium. Pink salt is no different – it contains high levels of sodium.

      Yes the colour reflects a range of impurities in the salt and clever marketers emphasise the tiny amounts of ‘good’ elements among those impurities. Strangely though, they never mention the highly toxic and radioactive trace elements which are also among those impurities, including arsenic, lead, mercury, thallium, polonium, uranium, plutonium, radium, strontium and fluoride.

    3. The trace elements in these “fancy” salts are so minute compared to the amount of them you get in whole plant foods it isn’t even worth comparing. Just a marketing ploy to get you to buy the salts. They want you to think you are getting something good. Maybe if they handed out breath mints with each pack of cigarettes more people would think it is okay to smoke.

    1. Hello Rhonda,

      Himalayan pink salt has certainly garnered a lot of attention in the past few years and while it may contain some more trace minerals than table salt, there are still many issues with it. Unlike table salt, which is iodized, himalayan pink salt does not contain the added iodine, so if salt was your main source of iodine (eg. you do not eat sea vegetables on a regular basis) then there is risk of deficiency. Furthermore, himalayan pink salt has the same effects on blood pressure as table salt, therefore, is best avoided. Sodium is sodium and the American Heart Association recommends 1500mg or less per day.

      I hope you found this helpful,

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

  3. Coming from Eastern Europe, I’ve been always used to adding dill to almost every meal, after the meal is cooked. And dill just tastes great too.
    I still remember eating it fresh from the garden we were growing it in.

    Dmitriy P,
    Shilajit Secret

  4. I am interested in your evaluation of the following article by Dr Jason Fung, which basically shatters the received wisdom about salt, arguing that there is no correlation between salt intake and hypertension, and a strong relation between low salt intake and higher mortality from cardiovascular diseases. This supports the comments below by Leslie:

    This is not a funded studies by special interest groups, and frankly puts your argument and recommendations about salt consumption in a doubtful light..


    1. Dr. Jason Fung is wrong about multiple subjects, it’s quite the accomplishement really because it seems to add up to more than mere chance.

      To be wrong about salt as a cause for hypertension while being an actual nephrologist really boggles the mind.

      1. I humbly don’t understand what Dr. Fung wrote. He’s comparing high sodium consuming cultures and some of his reasons for disincluding some cultures seem to be non-sequitur. Also see this from Dr. Gregor

        However Dr. Fung does have an interesting article about the Kempner Diet. Regardless, in my humble opinion, Dr. Gregor’s points are more valid and Dr. Fung’s points are open for a different and perhaps more correct interpretation.

    2. Ehud,

      When they did a study of every death in America I think it was 2012, the top correlating factor was sodium intake.

      That was one of the talks of the Food Revolution Summit.

      Some doctors do think it is because they use the salt on things like animal products, but Dr Gregers position on how it affects the endothelials is what you have to look at and figure out which side you believe.

      1. No matter what we do know that salt intake hurts artery function.

        They can see a difference even reducing salt one meal so it is that salt hurts arteries.

        Do you people who disagree just not think artery function matters?

        We also know that salted soy increases stomach Cancer risk and that salt makes autoimmune worse and may cause the leaky gut in the first place.

        1. Perhaps my comments earlier didn’t clarify my point of view on sodium. I think the Western Diet is dangerously high in sodium, sugars, and animal protein/fat. I eat 99% of my food at home, cooked by myself. And it’s all fruit, greens, other vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts. No added salt, except in salted nuts, and no added sweetener. The only added sodium is on the nuts.

          My point earlier was that some sodium is vital for a myriad of bodily functions. And I’m not convinced that I would get enough sodium by eating as they did a million years ago. I’m not convinced that the diet of the paleolithic era should be our measuring stick.

    3. Fung is a low carb diet promoter. They all come up with weird and wonderful reasons why high fat low carb foodstuffs like meat and dairy should be healthy. Consequently they have a constellation of beliefs which include LDL cholesterol levels are irrelevant (because high saturated fat consumption raises them), saturated fat consumption is healthy and sodium guidelines are too low (because dairy and meat are high in sodium, so sodium mustn’t be a problem).

      Most of their arguments are based on confounded observational studies. That applies just as much to their arguments about salt as it does to their beliefs about saturated fat and cholesterol. However, the global scientific and medical communities have assessed all the relevant evidence (including ward studies and other relevant interventional trials) and concluded that it unambiguously shows that high sodium and saturated fat intake (and high blood cholesterol levels) increase mortality and morbidity risk.

      Greger’s views on this matter reflect the totality of the scientific evidence. Fung’s don’t.

    4. It’s critical to address the body of peer reviewed research on any topic, and to update such reviews as new research is published. There is a working group that does this, and publishes its findings every year or so. In the levels of evidence, individual opinions on a topic are weighted very low for use in changing advice to individuals or policy. Systematic reviews of all published evidence, especially of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials are considered the highest level of evidence. The latest review (full text is free) on salt intake and various health outcomes is here:

      Another consideration is that there are many different health outcomes (high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke risk, heart failure, kidney disease) potentially affected by salt intake, there are different levels of salt intake, different foods that come along with salt with other potentially harmful effects, etc. Most foods are not all good or all bad in every particular situation.

      The opinion of the article you’ve shared is interesting. If large, randomized, controlled trials published in peer-reviewed journals are found to support those ideas, we will review them here.

      Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  5. My wife and I do not add salt either cooking or on the table. I have a family history of severe hypertension and leg oedema requiring lasix, Carvedilol, and Altace at maximum doses. We eat a strict WFPBD which we started 20 years ago and my weight, BP, and oedema are ideal. Last night, friends invited us out for dinner and by the time I got home, my feet were balloons and my BP extremely high. I took an extra lasix and lost a huge amount of fluid resolving all my issues. With my diet, I forget how bad my symptoms and signs can be, even with just one salty meal.

    1. Hi, Robert, I agree! It’s interesting how salty meals can cause one’s BP to creep up without even realizing it. I don’t take any medicine for my BP yet, but I recently noticed that my one can of commercial soup per day might be raising my BP so I stopped that daily can and then noticed that my BP started declining again to more reasonable levels. That’s evidence enough for me!

      1. WFPBLiisa, a few years ago I was adding about a quarter to a half tsp of pink salt to my morning oatmeal because I was convinced that I needed the minerals. It shot my BP up into the 140s. As soon as I removed the added salt, my BP went back to normal, which is around 90 to 100.

  6. Salt enhances flavor (good?). But good is bad if overused. If your understanding of a good meal is good flavor, then you would end up adding salt to everything and creating a bad diet. Animals don’t eat extracted salt. Is salt added to compensate/enhance bad flavor?

    If a person is used to a diet of salt, upon restricting salt, there should be a period of adaptation. But if the person adapts, then why anyone eat salt? Unless someone sweats a lot or drinks too much daily, salt should be not necessary. But then why not consider extracted electrolytes better?

  7. I have asked on Dr. Greger’s “monthly treadmill talks” about using potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. KCl is in such products as No-Salt Salt Substitute and Morton’s Salt Substitute. I heard that potassium from such salt substitutes actually helps the kidneys remove excess sodium from the body. I’ve never had a response to my queries. I wonder if now is the time.

    1. There was an article on cooking about what to do if you had too much salt and they suggested having potassium rich foods because the potassium would definitely flush out the effects of the salt in your system and also to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and eliminate the salt from your system

      1. While trying to eliminate my taste for salt I was able to greatly lower the amount of salt I needed for taste. I still add small amounts for taste to vegetable broth etc.

        Most of my salt tastes are now satisfied with very small amounts of potassium chloride. To me the taste is just like NaCL. I don’t understand why this is not more popular. I don’t know of any harm from small amounts of potassium chloride. Does anyone else know what the drawbacks might be?

        1. ‘Potassium supplements can cause minor gastrointestinal side effects [47]. Chronic ingestion of doses of potassium supplements (e.g., up to 15,600 mg for 5 days) in healthy people can increase plasma levels of potassium, but not beyond the normal range [1]. However, very high amounts of potassium supplements or salt substitutes that contain potassium could exceed the kidney’s capacity to excrete potassium, causing acute hyperkalemia even in healthy individuals.

          The use of potassium salts in certain medications has been associated with small-bowel lesions, causing obstruction, hemorrhage, and perforation [20,73]. For this reason, the FDA requires some oral drugs providing more than 99 mg of potassium to be labeled with a warning.’

    2. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer. That is a great question. Potassium is very important for overall health and one of the many problems with the standard western diet is not just the high sodium intake, but the high sodium to potassium ratio. Dr. Greger has several videos about potassium.
      But the best sources of potassium is whole plant foods. The salt substitutes are a processed, concentrated form of extracted potassium. Fruits and vegetables are full of potassium in natural state. So on Dr. Greger’s traffic light system, salt substitutes being processed would be a “yellow light” whereas fruits and vegetables would be a “green light”.

      Salt substitutes are likely better than salt, but have some issues. If you have any kidney issues, that high dose potassium is not ideal.
      I would limit salt substitutes. Spices like garlic, basil, ginger etc, have great health benefits and would be a better salt substitute. I would focus on whole plan foods to get the beneficial potassium.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Beet root powder! I can get organic beet root powder in the bulk bins. A great flavor enhancer.
    I also get a bag of 4 varieties of sea vegetable flakes that I add to dishes.

      1. It still didn’t work. I even tried posting it down here. I’m assuming because there’s a link to a video. Come on, guys. It’s NF video. I’ve posted youtube videos with less trouble here. You’ve got to be kidding me!

        1. Yes, I’ve had the same problem. It’s been happening for years – since they dropped the WordPress system. I think it is some sort of automatic anti-spam filter that is not very intelligent.

        2. Nancy, I have the same thing.

          Sometimes it posts the video links,

          Sometimes it doesn’t.

          Keeps us trying to figure out the rules.

  9. There is one issue in cutting down on iodized Salt, and that is getting enough Iodine in one’s diet. Should we then use Kelp or other seaweeds to get Iodine in our diet?

    1. Daniel, I suggest Wakame. Kelp and others have too much iodine, but 5 grams of wakame per day is perfect.
      Re the sodium question, I don’t believe there’s enough sodium in plants.
      I’ve been a fairly strict WFPB person for several years. I don’t salt my food but instead take about 3 oz of salted nuts each day with 3 dates as my only snack. I expect the fiber in the nuts to counterbalance the date sugar to check the glycemic load.

      1. Joseph,

        Is your sugar high?

        Or your fat intake?

        I don’t understand that you are worried about the glycemic load of dates.

        Especially if you are eating them with nuts.

        The nuts without the salt already balances the glycemic load.

        1. Hi Deb! My intake on sugar is almost non-existent and my fat intake is low and restricted to soy products, avocados, hummus, nuts, hemp seeds, and olives. The glycemic index of Dates isn’t high, and the date industry touts that fact. But the glycemic load is high, and that’s it’s the load that spikes insulin. But, as you say, eating them with nuts should keep that in check.
          I’m 78, lift weights twice a week, and consume 60 to 80 grams of protein, depending on whether I workout. My meats, no dairy, no eggs, no sweeteners (except the dates), no added salt (except the nuts), and almost no Flour (I eat Ezekial bread). I cook my own food from scratch, and very rarely eat out. My wife does the same and we live in the Rockies, with naturally clean water, both of which we filter anyway.

    2. Hello Daniel,

      You’re absolutely correct about iodized salt. In most western countries it is the number 1 source of iodine for most people so it’s important to ensure you’re meeting iodine needs through consumption of sea vegetables. However, Dr. Greger recommends against kelp since iodine toxicity is also a concern and the amount of iodine in kelp is extremely high! Instead, Dr. Greger recommends 160mcg/day of iodine from nori, laver, or wakame.

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

      High iodine in kelp:
      Iodine seaweed sources:

  10. I recall reading in the past that it’s not just the amount of sodium in our diets that is important, but also the ratio of sodium to potassium, which should be about 1:4 but is in fact on average in the US about 4:1

    But the article I quote below suggests that these ratios weren’t quite right — though if the article by Dr. Fung (link provided above by Ehud Toledano) is correct, Americans are actually eating on average of 9 grams of salt a day, or 9,000 mg per day.

    “Our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors took in about 11,000 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day from fruits, vegetables, leaves, flowers, roots, and other plant sources, and well under 700 mg of sodium. That’s a sodium-to-potassium ratio of 1 to 16. Today, we get more sodium (3,400 mg) than potassium (2,500 mg), for a ratio of 1.36 to 1.

    That’s not good, according to a study that tracked the health of more than 12,000 American adults for 15 years. The higher the sodium-potassium ratio, the greater the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease, a heart attack, or for any reason at all (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 11, 2011).”

  11. So many comments here are so misleading, the article clearly points out the “added” salt is not needed. You can get enough of your sodium requirements from vegetables especially celery,make celery salt is a great idea. As for plant fat and animal fat, too much of either is no good. Lowering your fat intake is a good idea, by eating more whole food carbs and fruit and veg.

  12. What about low sodium salt,is it safe?
    Why do some people who eat too much salt,the salt cause it to sting their eyes when they cry,are they intolerant to salt? I don’t see how nettle powder could be a good flavoring,but maybe some people like the taste of it I guess.
    Wasn’t there a video/article about using umami and miso to reduce salt intake?

    1. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer. Thanks for your great questions.
      Low sodium salt substitutes potassium chloride for sodium chloride. Potassium is very important to our health and this low sodium salt may be better than plain salt, but it is best to get our potassium from whole plant foods. Salt substitutes are a highly processed food, not a whole plant food. So they would be a “yellow light” on Dr. Greger’s traffic light ranking system.
      Spices like garlic, basil, ginger etc, have great health benefits. If we can get used to using things like that for flavor rather than salt, those would benefit us.

      Dr. Greger does have a video about Miso:

      Dr. Greger actually has a recipe for Umami sauce in his cookbook which has only “green light” ingredients


    1. Hello FM, you are correct!

      The soy in miso has so many healthful properties that they actually exceed the blood pressure raising effects of the salt, producing a more neutral effect on blood pressure. Furthermore, salt is linked to stomach cancer, yet miso is not. For this reason, Dr. Greger does not recommend against miso consumption like he does for other salty and processed foods.

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

      Is miso healthy?:

  13. I love these new salt guidelines. Never heard anything like this before, but it makes perfect sense.

    Fewer milligrams than grams of serving,
    and fewer milligrams that calories.

    Very helpful and practical, thank you.

    I never add salt to anything. For years I have gone without even having any salt in our house, BUT, I do eat more processed food than I would like to, and things like a little Soy Sauce or peanut butter that has added salt, and sometimes I have some chips and salsa. My SO and I though now rarely dine out since we became aware of how much we do not know about what we are eating, in terms of salt, oil additives, origin and quality of food, and things like whether the pans used to cook are non-stick.

    We think it also makes sense in terms of how expensive restaurant food is nowadays.

  14. I removed salt out of my diet at home, even Himalayan salt, having eaten salt-free before already during a time of eating only raw plants. I am on a vegan diet since more than 20 years. However among our local vegan and vegetarian community this is still quite a debate. I got some of the reasons for that… salt being big business for meat and processed food industries.

    However one thing that is often raised as an argument is: Himalayan salt, natural rock salt or natural sea salt is not the same as the processed salt made by the mainstream salt industry. An argument being repeated in this counter video to one of your videos:

    Is Salt Bad For You? Dr Greger Says Yes, Good Thing He’s WRONG!
    Vegetable Police (Youtube video id LPgm8kqB5WQ in case full link gets nuked)

    What is your stance on this? And from watching that counter video: Are there studies that compared *exact* the same diet, like a healthy vegan plant based diet with and without added salt instead of probably comparing a “normal” unhealthy diet with an otherwise healthy diet. Studies that make specifically sure that the only factor that is changed is the salt intake?

    Personally I will go on with not adding salt at home and I do not eat processed foods as well, already due to that human beings did not add salt for the major time of their evolution and about what you wrote about indigenous people in the jungle where adults have same blood pressure level as children.

    I think it is important you say more about those “natural” salt alternatives in order to reach vegan and vegetarian people who are already quite conscious about their eating choices. Please do a video about those.

    1. “…human beings did not add salt for the major time of their evolution…”
      So what? That’s a poor argument, yet it’s used often by scientists and others who should know better.

  15. Hi Mabruka, thanks for your question. Individuals should consult a physician or registered dietitian about appropriate potassium intakes from all sources. Information on low-potassium diets is also available from the National Kidney Disease Education Program.

    Although hyperkalemia or high Potassium can be asymptomatic, severe cases can cause muscle weakness, paralysis, heart palpitations, paresthesias (a burning or prickling sensation in the extremities), and cardiac arrhythmias that could be life threatening.

    Potassium from dietary supplements, salt substitutes, and medications
    Potassium supplements can cause minor gastrointestinal side effects.

    Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC; 2005.

    Viera AJ, Wouk N. Potassium disorders: Hypokalemia and hyperkalemia. Am Fam Physician 2015;92:487-95. [PubMed abstract]

    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Sodium and Potassium Intake: Effects on Chronic Disease Outcomes and Risksexternal link disclaimer. Rockville, MD; 2018.

    1. Hi, hi spring03, hi Mabruka, hi everyone.

      Relating to my original comment, I found something interesting about salt recently:

      Ist Salz gesund oder ungesund? Wissenschaftliche Studien – Dr. med. Dirk Lemke & Prof. Jörg Spitz

      Youtube-Video-ID: 7bqJhQNAoP0

      (watch via one of the invidious instances, like for increased privacy or on youtube by adding “watch?v=7bqJhQNAoP0” to the domain name)

      It is from MD Dirk Lemke who researched studies on the topic of salt. It is in German though. He comes to a completely contradicting conclusion than MD Michael Greger and his team. He claims that the studies that claim that salt is harmful did not really compare salt intake versus no salt intake only, cause they did not recognize that much salty food in our so called modern societies is junk food. So those studies could not tell whether the adverse effects actually came from salt or the other aspects of the food choices of the involved persons. He also claims that it is dangerous not to eat salt.

      My question about whether there is a difference between the different kinds of salts is also still unanswered. What convinced me back then to go without added salt was the thing about the aborigines that do not use salt and where grown-up people have the same blood pressure than children while in our societies it is deemed natural that it is higher to grown-up people. However I also noticed that I never really had an issue with blood pressure so far. According to the last measurements it has been on the low end of the scale, even lower that would be considered normal for me. It has been some years since I last measured. Do those aborigines need salt? No… but they may life in an environment that is much richer in mineral content than I do.

      I did not add salt to anything for months, however I still regularly ate in a hotel in weeks I held trainings. And they add salt, that’s for sure, even though I managed to compose a salad out of basic ingredients with just vinegar. Due to the lock down measures I did not eat in the hotel for months meanwhile and I felt a bit uneasy that I my body may not get enough salt. Experimenting without salt has been a good time for me, I found almost no desire to use salt for about half a year. I even still had salt in my home and I just did not touch it. But meanwhile desire for salt has been coming up, which may mean that my body needs some.

      Thus I am experimenting with some salt again and I am not even sure whether it makes much of a difference. I’d really be interested whether there is a substantial amount of scientific evidence from studies that really single out salt as the only difference. And learn what that scientific evidence would actually be? Is it harmful, does the body need it, or doesn’t it even matter whether you add some or not? I would love to see an updated salt video that checks out on the claims that Dirk Lemke makes, really bringing the point home.

      For the moment I have the feeling that neither is really quite accurate. Neither the position of Michael Greger nor the one of Dirk Lemke.

      I still often enough eat without adding salt. Cause in the end my bet is that there are people who live without salt at all. Those aborigines Michael Greger mentioned in his book for example. I also intend to research studies on this topic myself as time permits. As this is not really crystal clear to me. There are just so many contradictions also within the field of science about salt.

      1. The bottom line is that you need salt in your diet. But Americans consume far too much of it. A pinch here and there is good for you, but that’s all.

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