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How to cut salt without cutting flavor

If you think that eating nutritious food with less salt means sacrificing taste, think again! Healthy, home-cooked meals, made with quality ingredients, are packed with vibrant flavors. Whether you’re new to cooking or you’re an experienced chef looking to reduce the salt in your meals, these easy tips will help you make healthy meals even more delicious.

1. Add acids: Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, and vinegars play an important role in healthy cooking. Acids act a little like salt in that they help bring out the natural brightness of foods and work to meld flavors together. Try making a quick salad dressing with lemon juice and zest or red wine vinegar with a smidge of oil—or toss veggies and grains with citrus or vinegar to brighten them up. With this added pop of flavor, you’ll think it’s summer all year long!

2. Spice everything nice: Spices are a great way to add flavor and character to a dish without adding calories, fat, and salt. Spices can add a unique flavor profile to any dish—a simple chicken breast becomes Tex-Mex chicken when you add cumin and chili powder, Jamaican chicken with a little cayenne, cinnamon, and allspice, or Morrocan chicken with some ginger and coriander.

Check out this article on DIY spice blends to learn how to create your own multi-use spice mixes!

3. Cooking with spices: While herbs can be used fresh or dried, spices tend to be dried and jarred, enabling you to build a diverse collection over time. While dried herbs and spices don’t “expire”, per se, they start to lose their flavor after about 6 months. Be sure to date your spice jars and replace them every 6–12 months for maximum flavor.

4. Adding flavor on a budget: Jarred herbs and spices can be pricey! Check the international foods aisle for cheaper (and smaller) packages of some common spices. Or find a local store that sells herbs and spices in bulk—they are typically MUCH cheaper, and you can buy just what you need!

5. Herb it up: Nothings brings a little extra life and flavor to a meal or dish like some fresh herbs (not to mention some powerful nutritional benefits from vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!), without adding any extra fat, calories, or salt. Next time you harvest or buy fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, rosemary, or thyme), give them a good chop and mix them with a little oil. Add some of the herb infused oil to veggies or meats before grilling and store the rest in ice-cube trays in the freezer so you have ready-to-use marinade or seasoning oil on hand all winter long!

Try this recipe for Everyday Herb Oil!

Dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs. If you are subbing dried herbs for fresh in a recipe, use 1 teaspoon for every tablespoon of fresh herb (and vice versa).

6. Cooking with herbs: You can usually use either dried or fresh herbs in a recipe. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh—use 1 teaspoon of dried herb for every tablespoon of fresh (and vice versa). If you are cooking with dried herbs, add them to the dish earlier in the cooking process so they have time to release their flavor. For fresh herbs, add toward the end of cooking process.

7. Maximize your herb use: Here are some ideas for sneaking fresh herbs into everydays meals, snacks and even beverages:
Herbed salad greens: toss sprigs of parsley, basil, dill, or rosemary into a salad to add some extra pizzazz.
Herbed ice cubes: when freezing ice cubes, add mint or basil leaves to freshen an ordinary glass of water or iced tea.
Fresh herb pizza: Whether you make your pizza from scratch or buy it, there’s always room to add a few fresh leaves of basil, rosemary, or oregano to the top before you stick it in the oven.
Fresh herbs and tea: Add a few leaves of sage or spearmint in with your favorite varieties of tea to spice them up a little!

Find more tips for creating fresh, flavorful, and nourishing meals in my cookbook, Whole Cooking and Nutrition!

If you have read up on salt facts, you’ll know that too much salt can cause raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The following tips can help you cut down on salt.

You don’t have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 75% of the salt we eat is in everyday foods we buy, such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.

Remember, whether you’re eating at home, cooking or eating out, don’t add salt to your food automatically – taste it first.

Many people add salt out of habit, but it’s often unnecessary and your food will taste good without it.

Shop for lower salt foods

When shopping for food, you can take steps to cut your salt intake:

  • Compare nutrition labels on food packaging when buying everyday items. You can really cut your salt intake by checking the label and choosing the pizza, ketchup or breakfast cereal that’s lower in salt. Try choosing 1 food a week to check and swap when you’re food shopping.
  • Go for reduced-salt unsmoked back bacon. Cured meats and fish can be high in salt, so try to eat these less often.
  • Buy tinned vegetables without added salt. Do the same with tinned pulses.
  • Watch out for the salt content in ready-made pasta sauces. Tomato-based sauces are often lower in salt than cheesy sauces or those containing olives, bacon or ham.
  • For healthier snacks, choose fruit or vegetables such as carrot or celery sticks. If you are going to have crisps or crackers, check the label and choose the ones lower in salt. Don’t forget to check the fat and sugar content, too.
  • Go easy on soy sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and other table sauces, as these can all be high in salt.

Cook with less salt

Many people add salt to food when they’re cooking. But there are lots of ways to add flavour to your cooking without using any salt.

Check out these salt alternatives:

  • Use black pepper as seasoning instead of salt. Try it on pasta, scrambled egg, pizza, fish and soup.
  • Add fresh herbs and spices to pasta dishes, vegetables and meat. Try garlic, ginger, chilli and lime in stir fries.
  • Make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules, or look out for reduced-salt products.
  • Try baking or roasting vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavour.
  • Make sauces using ripe tomatoes and garlic.

Eating out: salt tips

If you’re eating in a restaurant or cafe, or ordering a takeaway, you can still eat less salt by making smart choices of lower-salt foods.

Pizza: choose vegetable or chicken toppings instead of pepperoni, bacon or extra cheese.

Pasta dishes: choose one with a tomato sauce with vegetables or chicken, rather than bacon, cheese or sausage.

Burgers: avoid toppings that can be high in salt, such as bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce, and opt for salad instead.

Chinese or Indian meal: go for plain rice. It’s lower in salt than pilau or egg fried rice.

Sandwiches: instead of ham or cheddar cheese, go for fillings such as chicken, egg, mozzarella, or vegetables like avocado or roasted peppers. And try having salad and reduced-fat mayonnaise instead of pickle or mustard, which are usually higher in salt.

Breakfast: instead of a full English breakfast, go for a poached egg on toast with mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. If you do have meat, have either bacon or a sausage, but not both.

Salad: ask for dressings or sauces on the side, so you only have as much as you need. Some dressings and sauces can be high in salt and fat.

You can learn more about salt and your diet in Salt: the facts.

Soluble vitamin supplements, painkillers or indigestion medicines

If you routinely take dissolvable or effervescent vitamin supplements, effervescent painkillers or indigestion medicines, it’s worth remembering that these can contain high levels of salt.

You may want to consider changing to a non-soluble tablet, particularly if you have been advised to watch or reduce your salt intake.

Talk to a doctor or a pharmacist before changing any medicine you take.

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What seasonings can be used in place of salt that will still add flavor to foods?

There are many ways to lower your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor. You might try herbs, spices, and seasoning blends when cooking. Here is a list of some options for adding taste and zest to your food without using extra salt.

Create your favorite flavors using herbs and spices:

Fish

  • Bay leaf
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Dill
  • Dry mustard
  • Green pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Marjoram
  • Onion
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Savory

Beef

  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Cloves
  • Dill
  • Dry mustard
  • Green pepper
  • Horseradish
  • Marjoram
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Thyme

Poultry

  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Green pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Rosemary
  • Saffron
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Pork

  • Allspice
  • Applesauce
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Dry mustard
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Marjoram
  • Onion
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Thyme

Breads

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Dill
  • Poppy seed

Vegetables

  • Curry
  • Dill
  • Dry mustard
  • Marjoram
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Pasta

  • Basil
  • Garlic or roasted garlic
  • Oregano
  • Poppy seed

Potatoes

  • Dry mustard
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

General tips:

  • Fruit juices can be used as marinades or as sauces or glazes thickened with cornstarch.
  • Jams, preserves, honey, and maple syrup can be used for glazing meats or roasted vegetables.
  • Brown sugar can be mixed with savory spices as a rub for dry meat.
  • All types of vinegar (cider, wine vinegar, Balsamic, rice, or flavored) can be used as marinades or to drizzle on veggies or fruit.
  • Citrus juices and/or citrus zest (orange, lemon, grapefruit etc.) can be added to marinades and rubs or squeezed over meats, pasta, rice, and/or veggies.
  • Hot spices and peppers, such as cayenne, jalapenos, and roasted chipotle peppers, are useful.
  • Plain yogurt mixed with seasonings can be used to marinate and tenderize meat.
  • Sesame oil or herb- infused oils can be drizzled on meats, veggies or breads, rice, and/or pasta.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/04/2019.

References

  • Expert knowledge and experience of healthcare providers at Cleveland Clinic
  • American Heart Association. Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure. (https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/shaking-the-salt-habit-to-lower-high-blood-pressure) Accessed 3/6/2019.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Whether you’ve had a weekend binge or you’re beginning to notice certain patterns in your diet, there may come a time when you feel the need to lower the amount of sodium you’re taking in.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

While there’s a difference between the short-term and long-term solutions, they’re all related to one thing: cutting back on the sodium in your system and getting you to a better place health-wise.

How to flush sodium out of your system

If you’re feeling the effects of too much salt, there are a few ways to rid yourself of excess sodium. “The very best thing to do is sweat,” says registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD. “The body naturally removes sodium through sweat, tears and urine.”

To even out your sodium level, get sweaty by exercising or sitting in a sauna. Drink plenty of fluids and cut out salt and salty foods right away.

Seven tips for lowering sodium in your diet

It’s wise to reduce sodium in your diet to keep it from taking a toll on your health, especially if heart or kidney disease runs in your family. Blood pressure often rises as you age, too. So even if you don’t have problems with it now, scaling back on sodium is a smart move for the future you. Here are some tips to help you eat less salt:

1. Track your sodium consumption

You first need to determine how much sodium you’re eating every day and discover the high-sodium sources in your diet. “Most of us eat similar foods every day,” says Zumpano. “So if you just track the amount of sodium that you eat for two days during the week, plus the weekend, in a food diary, you’ll get a nice average of your sodium intake.”

Once you know how often you’re eating salty foods, you can make changes that fit your health goals. For example, you might realize that the can of soup you frequently eat for lunch has half of your daily sodium. You could switch to something lower in salt, like a salad, or look for a lower sodium soup that might cut your sodium in half and make you just as happy.

That one little change can make a big improvement in your overall sodium intake, Zumpano says. But perhaps you want to keep the can of soup because it’s a convenient choice that’s low in calories and high in fiber. You can just lower your salt intake for the rest of the day to keep your salt consumption from going too high.

2. Reduce salty foods

Look at what foods you’re noshing all the time. Some foods are sky-high in sodium. Try eating them only occasionally or look for low-salt or no-salt-added versions. The top culprits include:

  • Canned soups.
  • Chips and microwave popcorn.
  • Condiments like soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.
  • Frozen meals.
  • Pickles and olives.
  • Processed snack foods (trail mix, crackers, beef sticks).

3. Make meals at home

Packaged and restaurant meals account for more than 70% of the sodium Americans consume. If you frequently dine out or use prepared meals, it’s difficult to control the amount of salt you’re eating. To keep your salt consumption in check, prepare more meals at home. That way, you decide how much salt goes into your food.

4. Cut your salt in half

Do you already primarily eat home-cooked meals? If so, consider gradually reducing the amount of salt you use in recipes to manage your daily sodium. Start by putting in half the usual amount. Once you get used to that, cut it to a quarter of what the recipe calls for.

“Using this method to reduce salt helps you slowly adjust to a less salty taste,” says Zumpano. “Because going cold turkey can sometimes be difficult. It can make food taste bland.”

5. Add flavor with other seasonings

Step away from the saltshaker — you won’t need it if you use flavorful ingredients. Consider adding herbs and either salt-free or low-salt seasoning to enhance the flavor. Add zing to your meals with basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, turmeric, ginger and strongly flavored vegetables like garlic and onions. If you like spice, it’s a great way to kick up dishes, too, notes Zumpano. Use cayenne, jalapeno or green chili peppers — fresh, dried or canned without salt.

6. Make special requests at restaurants

Lower the amount of sodium in your meals when you eat out by making special requests. You can ask for:

  • No salt to be added to your order during cooking.
  • Dressings and condiments on the side, so you can control how much goes on your food.
  • Fresh fruit, steamed veggies, a salad or baked potato instead of fries.

7. Eat foods high in potassium

Potassium is a mineral that works hand in hand with sodium. When sodium levels increase, potassium levels tend to decrease.

Eating more potassium has the opposite effect of sodium: It decreases your blood pressure. Add more of the mineral to your diet by eating foods high in potassium, like:

  • Avocados.
  • Bananas.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Peas.
  • Potatoes.
  • Spinach.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Oranges.

The most successful way of reducing sodium in your diet is to implement one tip until it becomes a habit. Then try another tweak. Before you know it, you’ll be eating far less salt than you were before.

“And remember, there’s no forbidden list of foods,” says Zumpano. “Just be aware when you eat high-salt foods and then adjust the rest of your day to have less sodium than normal.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

With salt’s link to serious conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, many of us are trying to reduce our sodium intake.

. some of us on doctor’s orders. Reaching for the salt shaker less often could have a major payoff: Cutting just a half teaspoon of salt out of our diets every day could reduce our rates of coronary heart disease and stroke roughly by a third, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But, let’s be honest: A salt habit can be hard to kick, oftentimes because we believe that adding this table staple to what we’re eating is the only way to make it more palatable—and that taking it away will remove some of the joy of eating too.

Fortunately, a lower-sodium diet does not have to mean a lifetime of flavorless food. The next time you’re in the kitchen, consider these alternatives to another pinch of salt. You may find that they make what you’re eating not only far more healthy, but delicious to boot.

Doing more of your own cooking and limiting processed foods and some high-sodium restaurant foods can also go a long way in helping you to reduce your sodium intake.

Salt Substitutes and Light Salts

These products may be helpful for you if you’re not ready to give up the salty flavor all together just yet.

The most commonly used salt substitute is potassium chloride, which contains no sodium but has a salt-like flavor. Salt substitutes can be good options, but you should avoid potassium chloride if you have kidney disease or if you take medications for high blood pressure or congestive heart failure that cause your body to retain potassium. (Check with your doctor to determine if these products are right for you.)

“Light” or “lite” salts usually contain a blend of potassium chloride and sodium chloride (the main component in salt)—so they still contain sodium, but less than what’s in your shaker right now. Go easy on light salts: You may use more of them than you would regular salt to attain the flavor you’re used to, and as a result, you may consume just as much sodium as if you hadn’t made the switch.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices can add flavor and variety to dishes in a way that you may find meets or beats the results you get with salt. And in addition to being sodium-free and tasty, herbs and spices are some of the top sources of disease-fighting antioxidants in our diets.

A few tips for using herbs and spices:

Herbs can be used either dried or fresh. Dried herbs are generally twice as strong as fresh herbs. Crush dried herbs in the palm of your hand before adding them to food to release their aromatic oils and enhance the flavor they bring to your cooking.

Buy small containers of dried herbs and spices because time tends to destroy their flavors. They have a maximum shelf life of six months. (It might be time to replace some of yours!)

Here are some of flavorful combinations we recommend:

Good for Poultry:

Bouquet Garni: Parsley, bay leaf, thyme
Greek Delight: Lemon zest, thyme
Herbes des Provence: Marjoram, oregano, thyme, summer savory
Tastes Like Turkey: Sage, thyme, marjoram

Try it on Seafood:

Fine Herbs: Parsley, chervil, chives, tarragon
Hint of Asia: Garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar
A Little Green: Lemon juice, oregano, garlic, rosemary
Mexican Spice: Cumin, chili powder, cilantro, lime juice

Spice Up Veggies:

Italian Medley: Garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar
Spring Splash: Lemon juice, parsley, dill
Quatre Epices: Ground pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
More Tips on Using Herbs and Spices from former Canyon Ranch Corporate Chef Scott Uehlein

Vinegars, Juices and Extracts

Other sodium-free seasonings include vinegars, citrus juices and zests (the colored outer peel of citrus fruits) and extracts. The following will add loads of flavor but zero (or close to no) fat, calories or sodium to your recipes:

Vinegar (use in marinades and salad dressings):

  • Balsamic
  • Champagne
  • Herb-infused
  • Red wine
  • Rice wine

Juice and Zests (squeeze or grate directly on foods for a hit flavor):

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange

Extracts (blend into oatmeal, applesauce and more for an unexpected element of richness):

  • Almond
  • Vanilla

Seasoning Mixes

If you don’t feel like mixing up your own spice blend, there are many brands of salt-free seasoning mixes on the market. Read the list of ingredients to make sure you are not buying a mix that contains salt, sodium chloride or monosodium glutamate (MSG), and be aware that some salt-free blends include potassium chloride, which some people should avoid.

Published: 12 March 2018

It’s World Salt Awareness Week (12 – 18 March) and the focus this year is on simple steps you can take to reduce salt in your diet. It’s surprising how quickly our intake of salt can add up across the day.

Most of us know that eating too much sodium (salt) isn’t good for our health, but we often think this is something we should be more concerned about as we get older. Unfortunately this isn’t true, eating too much salt during childhood increases blood pressure which tracks into adulthood and later life, increasing our risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s a good idea to think about how we can reduce our salt intake across all ages.

The maximum daily amount of salt recommended for adult New Zealanders from all food sources is about 6g. This is equivalent to 1 teaspoon per day but it can be easy to eat more than this. Remember, the amount of salt recommended for children is less than adults and depends on their age.

We currently consume around 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day which is one and half times the recommended maximum intake. Most of this comes from the processed and manufactured food we buy.

World Salt Awareness Week 2018 focuses on reducing our salt intake. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

5 steps to help reduce your daily salt intake

1. Choose whole, unprocessed foods and eat plenty of vegetables and fruit

The key to a heart healthy eating pattern is to base our diets on whole, minimally-processed foods with plenty of vegetables and fruit. These foods are generally lower in salt than processed foods. The more processing – the more likely salt has been added along the way.

When doing your food shopping, about 40% of your trolley should be filled with vegetables and fruit. Fresh, frozen, canned fruit and vegetables are all great options. Just remember to drain the brine (salty water) from canned vegetables.

2. Check food labels before you buy to help you choose less salty options

When you start comparing products, it’s surprising to see how the level of sodium can vary so much between similar products.

Check food labels using the Nutrition Information Panel to find foods with the lowest sodium per 100g.

To keep it simple when looking on a food label – LESS is BEST! Choose products which have the least amount of sodium per 100g.

Compare foods that are high in salt (like processed meats and sauces) but also compare the packaged foods that you eat often (like bread and breakfast cereals). Although these foods contain moderate amounts of sodium, they can contribute a lot of salt to our diets which can add up quickly (i.e. eating several slices of bread per day).

3. Take salt and salty sauces off the table so younger family members won’t develop the habit of adding salt

Tomato sauce, mustard, barbeque sauce, chutneys and soy sauces all contain considerable amounts of salt. The reality is, most of us have probably eaten more salt than recommended through packaged foods before we even pick up a salt shaker or drown our meal in tomato sauce.

Tastes and eating habits are formed early by children. If a child is exposed to salty foods when they are young, it is more likely that they will have a preference for salty foods when they are adults. If your family regularly uses table salt and salty sauces, removing them from the table will help to reduce your reliance on using sauces to add flavour to meals.

What about sauces with less salt? You may have noticed some brands of sauce have reduced salt versions i.e. ‘35% less salt tomato sauce’. These options are good to look out for if your family loves sauce but just be mindful that these sauces contain ‘less’ salt but are still not ‘low’ in salt.

4. Use herbs, spices, garlic and citrus in place of salt to add flavour to your food during cooking and at the table

Although most of the salt we eat comes from processed and packaged food, you can easily add plenty of flavour to your meals by using herbs, spices and citrus (lemon or lime zest), dressings and vinegar in place of salt. Remember ingredients like stock, soy sauce and miso all contain hidden salt so go easy on them and choose lower/reduced salt versions if they are available.

Gradually add less salt to your favourite recipes – your taste buds will adapt over time.

Click here for recipe ideas that use plenty of herbs, spices and lots of tasty ingredients that add flavour to food.

5. Cut back on processed meats, smoked foods and salty takeaways

Another simple way to reduce our salt intake is to cut back on salty foods and choose more whole, minimally-processed foods.

Processed meats like ham, bacon, sausages, luncheon, canned corned beef, smoked chicken and smoked fish are all high in salt. Consider alternating processed and smoked meats with sandwich fillings like chicken, tuna, egg and hummus to cut down on salt.

Takeaways cost a lot more than home cooked meals and they usually contain more salt. As an alternative, try making similar meals at home. If you eat takeaways one day a week, watch your salt intake for the rest of that week.

Lily Henderson, NZRD

National Nutrition Advisor

I am passionate about improving the health of all Kiwis from young through to old. I have enjoyed working in nutrition in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

There are a number of simple ways that you can reduce your salt intake. By understanding the truth behind some common salt myths, learning how to read labels and understanding which foods are high in salt, you can watch what you’re eating at home and when you’re eating out.

Knowing which foods contain a lot of salt is a great place to start when it comes to lowering your salt intake. About a quarter of salt is added during cooking and at the table and very small amounts are present naturally in most foods, but most of our salt intake (75- 80%) is hidden in ready-prepared or processed food and food bought from takeaways and restaurants.

Give yourself time to adjust

Many of us have developed a preference for salty flavours due to years of eating manufactured foods with a high salt content as well as the use of salt as seasoning. Initially when you reduce your salt intake foods tend to taste bland, but after two or three weeks you will start to taste the real and delicious flavour of natural food. Give yourself time to adjust. In the tips for eating at home, you’ll find alternative ways of adding flavour to your food.

Foods that contain salt

It can be surprising which foods add the most salt to our diets. Everyday foods which push up our salt intakes include bread, salads, sandwiches, soups, processed and smoked meat and fish, cheese, cooking sauces and table sauces.

Click here [PDF 606KB] to download the table below to see which foods are high, low and medium in salt, so you can make simple swaps. Our tips for eating at home and eating out, and our low salt recipes, will show you where you can make positive changes.

We carry out food product surveys which show just how much, or how little, salt can be contained in popular products such as sausages, salads, bread and soups. Click here to see our salt surveys.

The National Diet & Nutrition Survey, published annually, shows the percentage contribution of various foods to the total amount of salt (and other nutrients) in our diet. Some foods that we eat every day are not particularly high in salt, but because we eat them often, are responsible for a large part of our daily salt intake. The latest survey shows that bread adds more salt to our diet than any other food, responsible for a fifth of our salt intake 18%! For more information click here

Foods that are often high in salt

Anchovies
Bacon
Cheese
Chips (if salt added)
Coated chicken e.g. nuggets
Corn snacks e.g. Wotsits
Gravy granules
Ham
Noodle snacks pots
Olives
Pickles
Potato snacks e.g. Hula Hoops
Prawns
Salami
Salted and dry roasted nuts
Salt fish
Sausages
Smoked meat and fish
Soy sauce
Stock cubes and bouillon
Yeast extract e.g. Marmite

Foods where some brands are high in salt

Baked beans
Biscuits
Burgers
Breakfast cereals
Bread and bread products
Cakes and pastries
Cooking sauces
Crisps
Filled pasta
Pasta sauces
Pizza
Potato croquettes
Ready meals
Soup
Sandwiches
Sausages
Tinned pasta
Tomato Ketchup

Foods that are low in salt

Breakfast cereals*
e.g. Shredded Wheat
Couscous
Eggs
Emmental
Fresh fish
Fresh meat and poultry
Fromage frais
Fruit and Vegetables (dried, fresh, frozen and tinned)**
Homemade bread*
Homemade sauces*
Homemade soup*
Mozzarella
Pasta and Rice
Plain cheese spreads
Plain cottage cheese
Plain popcorn
Porridge oats
Pulses (peas, beans, lentils)**
Ricotta
Seeds
Unsalted nuts
Yogurt

* with no added salt
** choose tinned products with no added salt

How you can help us all eat less salt

Whether you are a chef, a restaurant owner, a food manufacturer or a customer wanting to eat less salt, we would welcome your support of our campaign. By getting involved in this campaign you would be helping Action on Salt to bring about a reduction in the salt contained in food which will help to reduce the number of people suffering from heart attacks, strokes and numerous other diseases.

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Action on Salt
Wolfson Institute of Population Health
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The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and says 1,500 mg of sodium per day is a healthier choice. That’s usually pretty tough for most folks without some serious changes to their diet.

How to Reduce the Sodium Intake in Your Diet

If you’re looking to reduce sodium in your everyday diet, consider these nine tips:

1. Read the Nutrition Label

Food manufacturers are required to display the amount of sodium on food packaging. Before you purchase your groceries, check the nutrition labels to see how much sodium a serving contains. Some foods, such as cottage cheese, have a high amount of sodium but do not taste salty. So don’t rely on taste alone.

2. Opt for Fresh Meats

Packaged, processed meats can contain more sodium than their fresh counterparts. While fresh meat does contain natural sodium, it’s usually much less than packaged meats. If you do purchase packaged meat, opt for the lower sodium varieties. (Hint: if a processed meat keeps longer than a few days or up to a few weeks, it’s probably high in sodium.)

Also beware of packaging. Some brands inject their meat with saline solution to add flavor and weight. This should be printed on the package, so make sure you read the disclaimers before you purchase.

3. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables

Canned goods offer convenience, but often at the price of high sodium. Fresh fruits and vegetables are straight from the farm and do not contain any added ingredients, such as sodium. If that isn’t possible, frozen fruits and vegetables are generally better than canned.

4. Compare various brands of the same product

The amount of sodium in a particular product can vary between manufacturers. Check the food label on several brands to ensure you’re getting one with a lower amount of sodium.

5. Buy low sodium products

Salt is not a necessity. Rather, it’s something that enhances flavor. Studies show that it takes 6-8 weeks to “unlearn” your preference for salt. Once you do, however, it becomes more difficult to eat salty foods because your body isn’t used to the salty flavor.

6. Avoid dining out

Cooking at home means you can (somewhat) control the amount of sodium in your meals. Restaurants, however, may add unnecessary sodium and other ingredients to your meal. This is especially harmful if you add salt once your meal arrives.

7. Substitute with zero-sodium seasonings

The whole purpose of salt is to add flavor to a dish, right? You have plenty of seasoning options (other than salt) that can add flavor without adding sodium. For instance, try substituting dried herbs instead.

8. Steer clear from condiments

Flavor-boosting foods like ketchup, salad dressing and mustard might not taste salty, but can pack a hefty amount of sodium in each serving. If you can live without condiments, do so.

9. Drain and rinse canned goods

When you crack open a can of beans or vegetables, drain the water and rinse the contents. Food producers often add salt to the water before canning to add flavor. Discarding the water from the can and adding your own can cut your sodium intake by about 40%.

Health and Nutrition at Five Star Senior Living

When in doubt, talk to your doctor to determine which foods are safe for your low sodium diet, and which ones should be avoided at all costs. Older adults, in particular, should watch their sodium intake.

At Five Star Senior Living, meals are prepared according to healthy guidelines, including low-sodium choices. Residents enjoy meals that are not only delicious but healthy as well.

Come see for yourself! Call to schedule a tour and see what our Signature Dining is all about.

URBANA, Ill. – Most people in the U.S. consume too much salt; adult Americans typically eat twice the daily amount recommended by dietary guidelines . Bread may not seem like an obvious culprit; however, due to high consumption and relatively high salt content, baked goods are a major source of sodium in the diet. A new study from the University of Illinois explores ways to reduce sodium in bread without sacrificing taste and leavening ability.

“Bread is one of the staple foods in a lot of people’s diets, and people generally don’t stick to just one serving of bread,” says Aubrey Dunteman, graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I, and lead author on the paper.

“About 70% of sodium in the U.S. food supply comes from packaged and processed foods. And the top source is actually baked goods, so reducing salt in that particular category would help to reduce sodium consumption tremendously,” adds study co-author Soo-Yeun Lee, professor of food science at U of I.

We can’t completely eliminate salt from our diet, but we can reduce it to a healthier level.

“Salt is an essential nutrient, and this is why we crave it. However, we consume more than we should, just like sugar and fat. Salt is related with hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, but it’s the amount that is the problem, not the salt itself,” Lee notes.

Salt is also an essential ingredient in bread making; it contributes to the structure and flavor of the bread, and is necessary for the yeast to work properly.

Dunteman and Lee conducted an extensive review of academic literature on sodium reduction in bread. They identified four main categories: Salt reduction without any further mitigation, physical modification, sodium replacements, and flavor enhancers. They discuss each of these methods in their paper, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology.

“The most basic method is just reducing the amount of salt in the product,” Dunteman says. “That can be good to a point, depending on the original level of salt and equivalent in the recipe. There’s always going to be a minimum amount of salt you need just to have the bread function and the yeast do its job. So it’s a limited method, but it can help to reduce high levels of sodium intake.”

Another method is physical modification, which involves uneven distribution of salt in the product.

“Sensory adaptation occurs when you have constant stimulus. If the salt is evenly distributed in a slice of bread, as you take more bites, it’s going to taste less salty, because you’re already adapted to the first few bites. But if you have different distribution of salt, alternating between densely and lightly salted layers, people will perceive it as more salty. So you can obtain the same taste effect with less salt,” Lee explains.

A third method involves replacement of sodium with other substances, such as magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, or potassium chloride. “This is one of the most commonly used methods in industry, but it can only be used up to a certain point, before you get a bit of a metallic taste from these compounds,” Dunteman points out.

The fourth method involves flavor modification with taste enhancers such as herbs and spices, or even monosodium glutamate (MSG). The researchers note multi-grain bread also allows for more salt reduction than white bread, because it has more flavor on its own.

Dunteman and Lee conclude the best approach to sodium reduction in bread will be a combination of methods.

“One of the four categories, salt reduction, is technically involved in all of them,” Dunteman notes. “Another category, salt replacement, is already heavily studied. We recommend more research into physical modification methods, as well as flavor enhancement types, and how to combine each of these methods with salt reduction.”

Finally, the researchers have some advice for home bakers looking to reduce sodium in their creations.

“If you’re interested in using less salt in your home-baked bread, you could try to reduce the amount to 50%, if you’re using standard recipes that are widely available,” Lee says. “You’d be surprised that the dough would still rise, though the bread would taste a little different. You can also use flavor enhancers to provide the salty, savory, satiating sensation you lose when you reduce the salt. But that wouldn’t help with the rise, so you cannot remove salt 100%.”

The research was supported by the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) through an ILSI North America Sodium Committee grant. IAFNS is a non-profit science organization that pools funding from industry collaborators and advances science through the in-kind and financial contributions from public and private sector participants. IAFNS had no role in the design, analysis, interpretation, or presentation of the data and results.

Salt, sodium chloride, sodium, NaCl. By any name, pepper’s best buddy is not an herb or a spice, but an essential mineral, and one of our favorite food seasonings.

Acting on food’s molecules, salt enhances their essence and makes them taste and smell better. Without it, dill pickles just wouldn’t be the same!

We need sodium for survival. It’s a vital nutrient that helps maintain blood, nerves, muscles, and fluid levels in the body. However, too much can be detrimental to good health.

There are plenty of foods that are naturally rich in sodium, like beets, apples, celery, cranberries, and meats. As a matter of fact, most foods contain at least some of this essential mineral.

Regular table salt comes in plain and iodized versions. In 1924, iodized salt was introduced in the US to help rid the population of goiter, a common thyroid condition at the time.

Today we cook with many varieties including sea salt, Himalayan, rock, and kosher. They differ from one another in flavor, texture, sodium content, usage, and price, but each imparts that secret something that makes foods sing – unless we overdo it.

Imagine a rich stew simmering, filling the house with its delicious aroma.

Dip a spoon into the glistening broth and taste. Just a pinch more salt will do the trick. Grab the shaker to add a dash and – oops! The lid pops off, and the contents pour in.

After tossing the shaker into the trash with a few choice words, what should you do?

Solutions for Stews, Soups, and Sauces

The natural reaction to over-seasoning stews, soups, and sauces with sodium is to want it out – fast.

With a large spoon or ladle, gently scoop out the contents in the area where the sodium was added. If it hasn’t had a chance to dissolve, you may undo some of the damage.

If you still have a pot that tastes like it was dunked in the ocean, the following four methods can help:

1. Dilute and Diffuse

After you’ve attempted to siphon off the salt before it dissolves, your next course of action is to water down your recipe to diffuse the heavy seasoning to a palatable level. Try the following:

The addition of more liquid will dilute the liquid in your dish, rendering the overall flavor less saline.

If the additional fluid thins the consistency too much, you’ll need a thickener. Dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch in one to one and one-half tablespoons cold water, and add it slowly to your simmering pot. Repeat until the desired consistency is reached.

2. Add to Counteract

Another option is to add an ingredient that will mask your blunder. If you can expand your original recipe, great! If not, a sweet, creamy, savory, or acidic addition may improve the taste of your over-seasoned dish.

Give one of the following a try:

  • Citrus juice – a sour variety, like lemon or lime
  • Herbs – savory aromatics like basil or rosemary
  • Milk, half-and-half, or cream
  • Sour cream or yogurt
  • Sugar – brown or white
  • Vinegar – particularly balsamic for beef-based dishes
  • Wine

Experiment using small increments, tasting as you go until the briny flavor is reduced.

If these fixes don’t do the job, there’s another idea you might want to try. Read on!

3. Absorb

Back in the day at my house, the conventional wisdom was to grab a potato, peel it, and plunk it into the pot when Grandma got heavy handed with the seasoning.

The idea was that it would absorb the excess as it simmered in her gravy. It was taken out before it got soft enough to fall apart. Of course, Grandma always ate it later – it was Grandpa who was on the low-sodium diet!

Today’s cooks have gone to great lengths to bust this method as a quaint myth. The general consensus is that the potato does absorb salt, but it soaks up liquid too, and doesn’t necessarily change the proportion of salt to food.

You may also try:

  • Pasta
  • Rice

An absorbent starch like rice or pasta may absorb excess sodium in your soup, stew, or sauce for a less briny taste overall. The added bulk will also soak up liquid, so add broth or water as needed.

If you are rescuing a sauce or broth, you may be able to strain and discard the added starch. This is more difficult with stews and soups, as the rice or pasta becomes part of the dish.

4. Serve with Something Mild

A dish that is not utterly ruined by an overabundance of sodium, but that is nevertheless quite briny, can be served in a way that will minimize its impact on the palate.

Serve small portions with mild side dishes like baked potato, bread, rice, or pasta, and avoid offering butters and cheeses that tend to be high in sodium.

Dress a cool, crisp salad in a creamy yogurt dressing for a healthy side, and keep glasses filled with thirst-quenching beverages and a twist of lemon or lime.

Waste Not, Want Not

Salvaging a dish is a relief, especially because you don’t have to throw money down the drain or start over again. Knowing these handy tips will do wonders for your anxiety level the next time you slip with the salt shaker!

Let us know some handy kitchen tips for repairing recipes in the comments below. We enjoy hearing from you!

The health information in this article is not intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease. Please consult with your health care professional before making any dietary changes.

Photo credits: Shutterstock.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer from southeastern Pennsylvania. When she’s not in the garden, she’s in the kitchen preparing imaginative gluten- and dairy-free meals. With a background in business, writing, editing, and photography, Nan writes humorous and informative articles on gardening, food, parenting, and real estate topics. Having celiac disease has only served to inspire her to continue to explore creative ways to provide her family with nutritious locally-sourced food.