Salt alternatives: Most fall short

Last reviewed: January 2009
4 salt alternatives

Salt substitutes lack table salt (sodium chloride); salt blends are a hybrid of table salt and other ingredients. Finding a tasty substitute or blend can prove tough: The best-known faux salt, potassium chloride, tends to have a bitter or off taste. And it might not be safe for people with kidney problems or those who take medications for the heart or liver, so those people should check with a doctor before using it.

Our experts conducted blind taste tests of no-salt-added cottage cheese and scrambled eggs to which we'd added a salt alternative. In all, they tried two substitutes and two blends. They also tasted the same foods with regular iodized salt and sea salt. (Sea salt is coarser and provides less sodium, since fewer grains will fit in the same-size measuring spoon.) The three products that contained potassium chloride—Morton Lite Salt Mixture (290 milligrams of sodium per ¼ teaspoon), Nu-Salt (0 mg), and No Salt Original (0 mg)—didn't impress the tasters, who generally described them as bitter, metallic, or having an aftertaste. Only Diamond Crystal Salt Sense, a blend without potassium chloride, tasted pretty much like real salt. And it has roughly one-third less sodium (390 mg per ¼ teaspoon).

Bottom line

If you want to trim sodium yet maintain taste, try Diamond Crystal Salt Sense or simply substitute herbs or spices for some of the salt you usually use.

Posted: December 2008 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: January 2009