Many people are trying to reduce the amount of salt (or sodium) that ends up in their diet because it can cause bloat, or complicate issues like heart disease. Others simply realize there are so many other ways to add flavor to food — namely, through judicious use of aromatic herbs and spices!
So how, exactly, do you cut back on sodium? We’ve got the 411 on labels, as well as a guide to reduced-sodium foods, and of course, suggestions on how to punch up a meal without the unnecessary addition of salt.
What Does Low Sodium Mean?
Low sodium translates to less than 140mg per serving. Sodium is used as a preservative, as well as for thickening, retaining moisture and enhancing flavor. Sodium can be found in high levels in foods that don’t otherwise seem “salty.” So if you’re looking to keep your levels low, it’s best to examine labels closely.
What is Low Salt?
The words “salt” and “sodium” don’t mean the same thing. Salt is a crystal-like compound that comes from nature, while sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt. As for labels, low salt can often mean that no extra salt is added, but unless stated otherwise, that doesn’t mean the product is naturally sodium-free.
What is Considered Low Sodium Food?
Dairy: Yogurt, milk, eggs and low-sodium cheese (try to avoid cheese spreads, American cheese, brie, blue cheese and cheddar).
Vegetables and Fruit: Fresh or frozen unsalted vegetables, all fruit, no-salt-added or low-sodium canned vegetables or tomato products (try and avoid pickled vegetables, olives, vegetables or potatoes with sauces or seasoning mixes, and canned vegetables and tomato products with salt ).
Grains: Potatoes, rice, pasta, beans and whole grains prepared without salt (limit breads and cereals with more than 180mg sodium per serving, and try and avoid box mixes like stuffing, pancakes and casseroles, as well as salted snack foods).
What Meats Are Low in Sodium?
No salt-added fresh or frozen fish, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, veal (try to limit low-sodium bacon and reduced-sodium processed meats, and avoid canned meat, ham, sausage, bacon, cold cuts and hot dogs).
What Foods Have No Salt?
Always go for fresh instead of processed foods, which often use salt for preserving and flavor enhancing.
What is Sodium Free Salt?
Sodium free salt products contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. People with kidney or heart disease should still be careful when trying sodium free salt. Instead of mimicking the taste of sodium with salt substitutes, it’s a much better bet to simply experiment with flavorful herbs and spices, like garlic, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, tarragon, oregano, or the following salt-free blends!
Perfect Pinch Garlic and Herb Salt Free Seasoning: Featuring garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, red pepper, onion, paprika and celery, it’s great on chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, pasta, and vegetables.
Perfect Pinch Garlic Pepper Salt Free Seasoning: This blend of garlic, black pepper, red and green bell peppers, onion and brown sugar will boost the flavor of meat, poultry, vegetables, potatoes or eggs. Use it in a zesty breakfast wrap.
Salt Free Garlic and Herb Seasoning: Turn up the flavor without adding salt or MSG, thanks to a bold combo of garlic, Italian herbs, orange peel, red pepper and paprika.
Salt Free Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper Seasoning: A combo of roasted garlic, red bell pepper, chili pepper and turmeric makes an excellent crust for pork loin.
Salt Free Onion and Herb Seasoning: Season a good-for-you turkey burger with this fragrant mix of onion, garlic, thyme, marjoram, basil and tomato.
Salt Free Vegetable Seasoning: Onion, garlic, black pepper, thyme, basil, red bell pepper and tomato make vegetables and salads the star of the meal.