5 Flavorful Ways to Decrease the Use of Salt in Your Diet

You’ve undoubtedly heard, on multiple occasions, that Americans consume far too much salt in their diets. Indeed, your own physician may have told you that you use too much salt and you need to cut back for the sake of your own health.

Table salt is comprised of sodium and chloride. Too much sodium in your diet can result in:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of kidney diseases
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis

You may be like many people – millions, actually – who have pretty much ignored warnings about using too much salt and the associated dangers of excess sodium in your diet. The prime reason why this likely has been the case is because you enjoy the food flavor enhancement that is provided by salt.

There is good news for you. There are five ways in which you can lower your sodium intake and still enjoy flavorful, delicious foods. These are:

  • Cook food from scratch
  • Take advantage of spices and herbs
  • Take advantage of alternative flavor sources
  • Be on the lookout for “hidden” sodium
  • Examine canned and prepared food labels

Cook Food From Scratch

Here is an alarming statistic that you likely are unaware. 75 percent of the sodium consumed in most people’s diets comes from three sources:

  • Processed foods
  • Third-party prepared foods (stores, for example)
  • Restaurants (eating in and taking out)

We live in a hustle-bustle world, there is no doubt. A considerable swath of the American public – including people in their senior years – make use of convenience foods with regularity. (These include the categories of foods mentioned a moment ago.)

Yes, convenience foods help us to get a meal on the table more quickly. And, yes, oftentimes these convenience meal options are quite tasty. However, these choices oftentimes (really, nearly always) are awash in sodium. Using these types of food products are a key reason why so many Americans use way over the recommended sodium level on a daily basis.

Preparing homemade meals, preparing food from scratch does take more time. However, it does not need to take a significantly greater amount of time to prepare your own meals and avoid prepackaged, sodium laden options. While it is true you will be spending at least a bit more time each day getting food on the table, there is another important reality to keep in mind:

By preparing your own meals from scratch you will be adding time to your life.

Take Advantage of Spices and Herbs

Alternatives abound when it comes to healthy spice and herb options that can take the place of table salt and its associated sodium. Indeed, if you are like many – if not most – people who make the switch, you are likely to conclude that your dishes are far more favorable once you remove the saltshaker and being to take advantage of the amazing array of spices and herbs that are available to you.

Examples of spices that are effective at “spicing up” (pardon the pun) savory dishes include:

  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder

Examples of herbs that are perfect ways to enhance the flavor of dishes (and can even be grown in kitchen gardens or windowsill pots in many instances) include:

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • French tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemon verbena
  • Lavender
  • German chamomile

Take Advantage of Alternative Flavor Sources

Replacing table salt with amazing herbs and spices is not the only way you can make meals more flavorful. There are some other wonderful flavor sources available to you, natural and healthy ways in which you can enhance the taste of your meals.

Examples of alternative flavoring sources you will want to consider include:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Oranges
  • Other citrus fruits
  • Flavored vinegars
  • Fresh peppers (of different types)
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh onion

Be on the Lookout for “Hidden Sodium”

Setting aside the saltshaker is not the only step you need to take to reduce the amount of sodium you consume in your daily diet. Avoiding foods that you likely already understand are high in salt (some of which we discussed previously) is only part of the effort to lower the amount of or eliminate sodium from your diet.

Sodium can be a sneaky fellow. Each and every day, Americans, including seniors, consume a tremendous amount of food items that contain significant levels of salt. These include food items that most people would not even expect to contain salt at all or at least not significant levels of it.

For example, there can be a considerable amount of sodium in poultry purchased at the market. This is because with considerable frequency a solution of water, broth, and salt is injected into poultry in order to increase its weight and juiciness. (Yes, in some instances, when you make a poultry purchase – thinking you are making a healthy and fairly affordable food selection – you are getting excess sodium in the process. And – you literally are paying hard-earned money for water, broth, and salt that has been injected into the poultry you purchase!)

Other food items in which sodium can be something of a hidden menace include:

  • Cookies
  • Breads
  • Bakery goods

Examine Canned and Prepared Food Labels

Many people do like having canned goods of different types on hand. The reality is that many canned food options contain considerable amounts of sodium. There are canned food products that do contain less sodium, some even indicate that they contain no sodium at all. Thus, you do need to take care when shopping for canned food – and other types of prepared food – to examine labels and determine the sodium content.

There is one additional step you can take in regard to certain types of canned foods, including beans. When you are ready to use canned beans, you can rinse them before you do so. (Not baked beans, or you take away needed sauce – a reality that underscores the benefits of making homemade dishes). By washing a canned food item like beans, you have the potential to reduce sodium levels by about 50 percent. Working towards less sodium in your diet is not a drive towards perfection. Rather, it is a move to improvement. Your doctor can work with you in determining what you need to do to obtain or maintain appropriate, healthy sodium levels in your foods and in your body.