6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Cut Your Salt, but Not Your Iodine

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(ABC 6 News) – Reducing table salt can have some health benefits but it can also leave you short on iodine and flavor.

Doctors say there are ways to make up for this important mineral and Consumer Reports took a look – and a taste- at some salt substitutes that can help make your taste buds happy.

Marcia Cameron has high blood pressure, so she finds ways to cut the salt. “I usually use dry herbs, some lemon juice, vinegar, apple cider vinegar. It all depends on what I’m making,” says Cameron.

However, cutting iodized salt can mean shorting yourself on an important nutrient – iodine. Our bodies are unable to make this mineral, yet it’s key for a healthy thyroid.

Doctor Carlos Navarro, a cardiologist in New York, says table salt may be a good source of iodine, but it makes more sense to get this element through the foods we eat.

“If you can, just get your iodine from natural sources, fish, shellfish, just try to get things that are from the sea, most of them are the ones that are rich in iodine,” says Navarro.

Most adults need about 150 micrograms of iodine a day. We can get 158 micrograms from 3-ounces of cod.

Dairy is also a good source. A three-quarters of a cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt has 87 micrograms of iodine.

Love seaweed snacks? Some of them offer 90-percent of the recommended daily allowance per serving.

But if you’re still craving that flavor boost from the salt shaker, Consumer Reports tested some popular salt alternatives that have less sodium than salt — and some even supply iodine.

“We wanted to determine how the products worked as a salt-swap – to see if we could tell the difference, and if they were better or worse compared to regular salt,” says Consumer Reports’ Amy Keating.

At the top of the list is a lite salt, which is a blend of iodized salt and potassium chloride. This tasted the closest to table salt, with half the sodium.

MSG came in second, with 60-percent less sodium than salt. It adds umami, which bumps up the taste of your food.

Nutritional yeast added a good savory flavor but potassium chloride salt turned out to be quite bitter.

Seaweed flakes have lots of fishy flavor but don’t add much saltiness. By the way, a teaspoon of this provides all the iodine you need in a day.

Since some of the salt alternatives contain sodium, Cameron says she’ll use them in her cooking, but only sparingly.

Experts say most of the sodium we consume comes from salt in packaged and processed foods, and this is often not iodized.

Also, popular salts like sea, Himalayan or kosher salts are not good sources of iodine.