By Avance Care Registered Dietitian Doris Nicolas-Mir, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Have you ever been told to watch your sodium intake or use less salt? Persons with high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and heart failure have probably heard that before. The first thing that may come to mind is “how am I going to add flavor to my dishes without using salt?”
Salt and Sodium 101
The words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably. So, what is the difference? Salt is the common name for the naturally occurring mineral sodium chloride (NaCl). Sodium by itself is a mineral that is commonly found in food as salt. Hopefully, that clears up some of the confusion.
How Much Sodium Do You Need?
Sodium is an essential nutrient that our body needs, but how much is too much? According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended amount of sodium for most healthy adults is 2,300 mg per day.1 Most people are shocked to find out that just 1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 mg of sodium. It can add up fast!
Where are We Getting Most of Our Sodium From?
The average intake of sodium in the United Sates is 3,393 mg per day.1 Interestingly adding salt to our foods during cooking and before eating are not the main we get sodium in our diet. Estimates show that 70% of the sodium that we get is already in the foods we consume.2 Processed, prepackaged foods and the foods we get from restaurants are the worst offenders.
How to Cut Down Your Sodium Intake
There are many ways to lower your sodium intake. Start by reading the nutrition label and looking at the sodium in the foods you eat most often. If you find some that are higher, try looking for a lower sodium substitute next time you are at the store. Another way to reduce sodium intake is to do more cooking at home. When you prepare your meals, use other seasoning options such as herbs, spices, vinegars, and flavored oils. Here are 5 salt-free seasoning blends that you can make yourself to help you get started.
5 Salt-Free Seasoning Blends
|Blend:||Ingredients:||Use it on:|
|1 tbsp garlic powder + 1 tbsp dried basil + 1 tbsp oregano + 1.5 tsp black pepper + 1.5 tsp dried parsley + 1.5 tsp dried rosemary + 1.5 tsp dried thyme + ¾ tsp ground nutmeg||
Chicken or Beef Kebobs
Fish and Shellfish
Dressings and Marinades
|Curry||2 tbsp cumin powder + 2 tbsp coriander + 2 tbsp turmeric + 1.5 tsp cinnamon + 1.5 tsp cardamom + ½ tsp cinnamon + ½ tsp cayenne pepper + ¼ tsp onion powder||
Curry Meats or Tofu
Curry Vegetable Soup
|Italian||2 tbsp dried basil + 2 tbsp dried oregano + 1 tbsp dried thyme + 1 tbsp dried rosemary + 1 tbsp garlic powder||
Dressings and Marinades
|Taco||2 tbsp chili powder + 2 tbsp cumin + 1.5 tsp onion powder + 1.5 tsp garlic powder + ½ tsp cayenne pepper + ½ tsp black pepper + 1 tsp oregano||
Southwest Bean Soup
|Pumpkin Pie||¼ cup ground cinnamon + 2 tsp ground ginger + 2 tsp ground nutmeg + 2 tsp allspice + 1 tsp ground clove||
Roasted Butternut Squash
Baked Sweet Potato
Check out our Sheet Pan Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken recipe for a quick and simple salt-free meal.
Doris is a Registered Dietitian working at the Clayton and Knightdale locations. She loves helping others meet their nutrition and wellness goals. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring North Carolina with her family.