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Salt substitutes are becoming big business (News from the Natural Products Expo)

March 11, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Food manufacturers are replacing salt with herbs, salt substitutes.
Food manufacturers are replacing salt with herbs, salt substitutes. (Los Angeles Times )

ANAHIEIM -- Salt substitutes are a major focus of the food industry, especially since the federal government issued its updated dietary guidelines earlier this year calling for a big reduction in salt intake. We're not talking just table salt here. Many processed foods contain huge amounts of salt, and manufacturers are searching for ways to lower salt content without ruining taste.

The natural products industry is way ahead in this game. A number of salt substitute products are on display at the Natural Products Expo, which runs Friday through Sunday in Anaheim. Lo Salt is one example. The product looks and is packaged like salt but has 66% less sodium than regular salt.

An increasing number of products are featuring combinations of herbs that are common in ethnic cooking but may be less familiar to the typical American consumer. The idea is to counter the bland taste caused by the missing salt with a healthy helping of herbs.

One potential problem is the growing use of a salt substitute called potassium chloride. It tastes like salt but doesn't function like salt in the body, which is good. However, some medical experts have expressed concern that people on kidney dialysis may consume more potassium than their kidneys are able to filter.

Related: Food companies sign up for war on salt

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