Many people don’t realize that the food they eat already has most of the average 4.3 grams of salt they need for the day, or that on average we are taking in more than double that amount. To cut your salt intake, use options on your food that boost the taste without the potential harm of salt.

Use oils such as natural olive oil to add flavor to your cooked dishes and salads. Olive oil and other healthful oils such as sesame oil naturally add a robust flavor when used to cook meats or vegetables or in salad dressings. Butter also has a distinctive taste. If you are limiting sodium, look for unsalted or sweet butter.

Use fresh lemon juice or vinegar to wake up the taste buds and add flavor to low-salt dishes. Lemon juice or vinegar can be used in marinades, sauces and salad dressings, or can be added to vegetables after cooking. Be sure to read flavored vinegar labels to be sure the product is low-sodium.

Use black pepper as a primary seasoning in low-salt cooking. In recipes calling for both salt and pepper, try eliminating the salt and doubling the pepper. You might want to increase pepper incrementally to be sure it won’t cause sneezing, but usually doubling the pepper gives a good result. Try freshly ground black pepper if you have a pepper grinder.

Use dried chili and cayenne peppers to add taste but keep sodium low. Experiment to find the amount that is suitable to your family’s preference. Chili and red pepper, whether ground or flaked, will give added taste to meats and sauces.

Use onion and garlic generously. You can choose between fresh and dried or ground varieties. Again, tailor the amount used to your family’s tastes, but onion and garlic will make food much more delicious without salt. In addition to meats, vegetables and salads, use these delicious bulbs in potato, rice and pasta dishes.

Purchase a variety of salt-free seasonings to make your meals delicious. There are different types for different uses and tastes. These are great for general cooking and especially useful to make eggs and egg dishes taste good without salt. They can be expensive, but sometimes you can find sales, coupon offers and store brands to save.

Read the labels on any prepared sauces and condiments you buy to determine their sodium content. Many are high in salt. In some cases, low-sodium alternatives are available, but you have to look for them.

Season your meats, sauces, salads, and vegetables with fresh or dried herbs specially chosen for each dish. Take your clue from published recipes and traditional cuisines. Use basil and oregano for Italian dishes or thyme and bay leaf in French dishes. When you are using a recipe and want to make it low-salt, try increasing the amount of herbs or other seasonings called for while you leave out the salt. If you increase other taste-enhancing ingredients, you can cook low-sodium. In fact, you can make delicious food without adding any salt at all.

References and Resources

RSC: How Much Salt Do We Need?