While salt is quite often described as an added flavor or seasoning in cooking, this mineral is also essential in keeping the human body functioning. When consumed in moderation, sodium is beneficial to our health. On the other hand, if sodium becomes an addiction it can lead to detrimental health effects on the body. It is recommended that adults in general should not consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but people with certain heath conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes should take in no more than 1,500 mg a day.
There are foods that have naturally occurring sodium such as in a variety of fruits and vegetables, and if you consume some animal products, in meats and cheeses. From fast-food to pre-packaged shelf foods, added salt is found in many different pre-made foods that are contributing to you eating way more sodium than your body can successfully process. So, what is the best way to go about reducing, even eliminating, salt from your diet?
Although sodium is the main element found in salt, it is also naturally present in most herbs and spices making them excellent and tasty alternatives to using salt in cooking. Some included:
Basil – Has a sharp yet slightly sweet taste. Chop into homemade pasta sauces or toss in with olive oil for healthy pasta options. Check out Cooking with Basil: Health Benefits, Tips, and Recipes
Cayenne – For a spicier salt alternative, try this hot red pepper in your cooking. The Ultimate Super Spice! Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder – Enhances food flavors while offering other health benefits at the same time.
Onion Powder – A great salt alternative, but use sparingly due to onion’s pungent flavor.
Curry Powder – How about trying something different to season up your meal? Curry powder packs a bold and rich flavor that is great on dishes like rice, root vegetables, beans, and squash. If you are new to curry, take a look at this guide to learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Thai Curries and Learn How to Make a Curry Paste
Are you a fan of roasted garlic? When a bulb of garlic is roasted with a little bit of olive oil it goes from bitter in its raw form to a delightful sweetness. Spread roasted garlic on foods like potatoes for a natural sodium source treat.
Sprinkle or crush sunflower seeds over salads, parfaits, and in your morning cereal, or eat them as is! Sunflower seeds are not only packed with nutrients, but are also a rich salt alternative. Check it out here to learn more about the health benefits of sunflower seeds, and to get helpful tips and recipes.
Other great sources of healthier, natural sodium come in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables including: celery, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, bok choy, melons, pineapple, and lemon juice.
One Green Planet Recipes: (Note: If a recipe calls for it, OMIT the salt from each list of ingredients and see what you think, how it tastes!)
Celery – Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root
Broccoli – Baked Broccoli Burgers
Bok Choy – Vegan Dumplings
Pineapple – Pineapple Fried Quinoa
Lemon Juice – Gluten-Free Lemon Swiss Chard Pasta
Honeydew Melon – I like: cube up and eat, or add to a fruit salad with other melons, berries, chopped fresh basil with a squeeze of lemon over the top.
Double ingredients! Artichoke and Lemon Juice – Artichoke and Olive Pizza
When it comes to cooking and baking without salt, or reducing the salt used, just remember that even though it may seem impossible at first your body will thank you. You only get this one body, so take good care of it!
For more information about salt or for tips on reducing sodium in your diet, check out these two One Green Planet reads: Salt in a Healthy Diet: Tips on Striking a Balance and No Sodium? No Problem! A Guide to Healthy Salt Alternatives.
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