IT was described as ‘unappetising and intolerable’ by Sir George Pickering, former regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford.

More than 50 years later no country has ever managed to get population salt intake low enough to conform to World Health Organisation guidelines, which recommends a daily intake of no more than a teaspoon due to the well-evidenced link to high blood pressure.

However, a Scots firm believes it can make inroads into the nation's salt addiction with a substitute, made from a natural material that has experienced a surge in sales across the pond and is described as ‘seasoning plus superfood’.

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At around £3, it costs less than most supplements and could also help address a major mineral deficiency that affects two thirds of women in the UK.

Mara Seaweed say its salt subsitute has been warmly received in the US by Blue Apron, one of the major meal kit services in the US, while the brand has also landed a plum contract with Tesco and is being used by high-profile restaurants including Martin Wishart, The Three Chimneys in Skye and Sexy Fish in Mayfair.


While the product has already earned its stripes with ‘foodies’, Fiona Houston, Chief Executive of Fife-based Mara Seaweed, said it is hopeful it can persuade more of the public to ditch the salt cellar and give it a try.

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“Yes I think we can and that’s backed up by the partnership we’ve got with Tesco,” she said.

“They have backed seaweed as something that they can really see as the food of the future.


“The barrier is to get people to try it in the first place. The statistics we have is that once people start using it they continue because what you are getting is the salt flavour without the salt so you are getting that sodium hit and the flavour enhancing thing - it’s a healthy salt.

“It’s not going to be an overnight hit but there is a move towards people using something other than salt to flavour food.

“Compared to the money people spend on nutritional supplements, it’s a steal.  You are looking at flavouring your food with a superfood as opposed to popping a pill.”

The brand was featured on Supermarket Secrets and won over both Greg Wallace and Paul Hollywood, who were impressed by both the taste and the health benefits it offers.

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“You are essentially getting a super-dose of minerals in seaweed, things that are very hard to find especially if you are only eating vegan such as iodine, potassium and magnesium,” said Ms Houston, "Iodine is a key one. 

“All the studies show that the World Health Organisation has had this on their radar as a serious health concern for 20 years.

"Two thirds of British women are deficient in iodine, which can affect fertility, foetal brain development and your thyroid function, which is one of the main glands in the body and affects so many different functions - your nervous system, your brain, your metabolism.

“The symptoms that you hear, particularly women complaining about that we just put up with such as tiredness or headaches, all these things can be related to iodine insufficiency.”

Tracy Parker, a dietician for the British Heart Foundation, which is marking national heart month, said swapping salt for other seasonings such as seaweed products was an easy way to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

She said: “We all need some salt in our diet but, on average, we’re consuming too much.

"Eating too much salt may raise your blood pressure, and having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.

“Fresh and dried herbs, spices, black pepper, chilli and lemon are all great ways to add flavour.

"So while you reduce the amount of salt you eat, substitute it with these other flavour enhancers and you won’t notice the loss as much.”