The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet has consistently been ranked as one of the best dietary plans for people with diabetes. The diet is designed to lower high blood pressure by focusing on three main areas:

  • Reducing saturated and total fat as well as cholesterol
  • Increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. This includes nuts, fish, seeds, and whole grains. Reducing sweets, additional sugar, sweetened beverages, and red meat

But reducing sodium intake by switching to salt substitutes can be potentially dangerous for people with diabetes. Many reduced-sodium products and salt substitutes contain potassium chloride as the main ingredient, which can be harmful to people with diabetes. And if you have kidney disease, you may not be able to rid your body of excess potassium, which can be potentially fatal.

Common food products that contain potassium chloride include:

  1. Dairy products, including processed cheese, condensed milk, flavored yogurt, powdered milk, powdered coffee creamer, whey products, and dairy-based desserts such as pudding.

  2. Dry food products, including many breakfast cereals, rolled oats, granola, pre-cooked pasta and boxed mac ’n’ cheese, powdered drink mixes, and powdered sauce mixes.

  3. Other products, including processed lunch meats, condiments like mustard or ketchup, and frozen meals. This is especially true for packaged food that is labeled “low-sodium.”

What can you do if you have diabetes or kidney disease?

Check product ingredients before you purchase any items. You don’t have to be overly concerned, but keep potassium chloride on your list of ingredients to check for when you’re shopping.

If you’re avoiding high sodium because you’re managing high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, then do just that. Instead of switching over to products with salt substitutes, simplify your life by cutting down on salt altogether. Use healthy, tasty herbs and spices to add flavor to your diet. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and curry powder are not only delicious but also pack a lot of healthy antioxidants.

Consult with your primary healthcare provider before you make any major changes to your diet. Keep track of what you’re eating in a food diary and discuss your options with your doctor.

What herbs and spices do you use most in place of salt? Give us your tasty tips in the comments section.

To learn more on this topic:

Tasty Ways to Cut Back on Salt
Protecting Your Kidneys
5 Tips to Reduce Feet, Leg and Ankle Swelling

Sources:
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf