Salt switcharoo saves lives

2 minute read

But is it tasty?

Millions of deaths could be prevented if food companies switched out table salt for a slightly more expensive salt substitute, Australian-led research has found. 

The study, led by the George Institute for Global Health, found that villages in rural China that used a salt substitute had lower rates of stroke, heart attacks and premature death than villages that continued using normal table salt.  

The study enrolled around 21,000 people in rural China who had a history of stroke or poorly controlled blood pressure. 

Some of the villages were given salt substitute containing less sodium and more potassium to cook and preserve food, while other villages continued to use regular salt. 

The people in the villages that got the slightly more expensive sodium-light salt were 13% less likely to have a stroke or heart attacks and 12% less likely to die prematurely. 

“If salt was switched for salt substitute worldwide, there would be several million premature deaths prevented every year,” said lead investigator Professor Bruce Neal of the George Institute for Global Health. 

‘This is quite simply the single most worthwhile piece of research I’ve ever been involved with,” he added. 

“Switching table salt to salt substitute is a highly feasible and low-cost opportunity to have a massive global health benefit.”

The Institute is now recommending that salt manufacturers worldwide switch to producing and marketing salt substitute at scale.

Salt substitutes cost around about $2.20/kg versus $1.48/kg for regular salt in China. 

Having a salt substitute in your kitchen cupboard should also become the norm for consumers. 

Does it taste any good? The Mayo Clinic warns that salt substitutes could taste a little bitter when cooked. A Cleveland Clinic blog notes that some people find salt substitutes metallic.

But suffering from heart disease also gets bad reviews so, swings and roundabouts, people … swings and roundabouts. Send story tips to

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×