Your guide to being a healthy vegan  
or a healthy vegetarian! 
 
Health Guide:  
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 Fruits & Vegetables
 Legumes / Beans
 Oils & Fats
 Vitamins & Minerals
 Whole Grains
Additional Info:  
 Caffeine
 Herbs & Spices
 Nuts & Seeds
 Organic Produce
 Salt & Sodium
 Soy & Tofu
 Sugar & Sweeteners

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Vegan / Vegetarian SaltSalt and Sodium

Sodium is one of the primary electrolytes in the body (the other two are potassium and calcium). Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, or even an electrolyte disturbance, which can cause severe, even fatal, neurological problems. Drinking too much water with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication.

Quick Page Summary: Try to limit your intake of salt, as too much can be unhealthy. Instead, try to replace the salt with herbs and spices. When you do eat salt, get unrefined, iodized sea salt, as it has extra minerals and nutrients missing from normal table salt.

Daily Recommendations

The "Sodium and Potassium" section of the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 suggests that you should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium (= 2.3g sodium = 5.8g salt) per day.

There is significant evidence that high sodium intakes can cause hypertension (high blood pressure), which is can cause of strokes and heart disease. Diets high in salt can also trigger osteoporosis, as salt in excess can cause calcium to be excreted in the urine. Additionally, salt can damage the vitamin content when cooking or steaming vegetables.

Salt ShakerTable Salt vs. Sea Salt

Unrefined sea salt is often thought to be better than table salt, as table salt lacks many of the beneficial minerals found in unrefined sea salt, including magnesium, iodine, and over 21 essential and 30 accessory minerals essential to our health. All three electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and calcium) are available in unrefined salt, as are other vital minerals needed for optimal bodily function. Table salt loses these minerals and electrolytes during the refining process, then usually has iodine put back in (along with some unhealthy additives, including sugar). Some critics argue that unrefined sea salt doesn't have enough natural iodine to make it a good choice. Fortunately, there's a solution: Iodized, unrefined sea salt, which has extra iodine added to it.

Tip: Beware refined sea salt, which has undergone a refining process similar to rock salt removing the minerals and typically adding unwanted additives.

Tips for Reducing Salt Intake

It's easy to obtain all the sodium you need without adding any salt to food at the table or while cooking. If you're hooked on salt, try these tips:

  1. Your taste buds will adjust to having less salt if you gradually cut down on adding salt to your food. Eventually, you'll be able to use little to none!

  2. Try using lemon juice, fresh or dried herbs, or spices to flavor food, rather than salt.

  3. Table sauces, even organic ones, are usually very high in salt. Try using low-salt or no-salt sauces instead.

  4. Always buy low-salt versions of things like potato chips and tortilla chips.

  5. Vegan cheese, tofu, and hummus, and most processed foods (including cereals) are often eaten regularly by vegans, but they are still quite high in salt and so should be used sensibly. Try making your own low-salt variations, when possible, as healthy alternatives.

SeasoningSalt Substitutes

Salt substitutes have a taste similar to table salt and contain mostly potassium chloride, which increase potassium intake. Because excess potassium intake can cause potentially fatal hyperkalemia, you should check with your physician before using salt substitutes. Various diseases and medications may decrease the body's excretion of potassium, thereby increasing the risk of hyperkalemia. If you have kidney failure, heart failure or have diabetes, you should not use a low salt variety without medical advice.

A better alternative to salt is to simply use flavorful herbs and spices. Many no-salt seasonings are available that are both tasty and healthful.

Resources

Where can I buy healthy vegan alternatives?
Our sister site, Vegan and Vegetarian Products Guide, lists hundreds of tasty alternatives to dairy, eggs, meat, pet food, supplements, and more that can be found in many grocery stores.

Disclaimer
This web site is intended for information purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. This site is provided by health-minded volunteers, not professionals. Always confirm the information you read with verified medical journals and articles before using the information. Always seek the advice of your physician, dietician, or other qualified health provider before changing your diet or taking supplements.

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Please email any suggestions or corrections to info[at]veghealthguide.com
The information above is for informational purposes only.
Always remember to talk to your physician if you have questions or plan on changing your diet.


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