Low Sodium Diet Tips

Here is some information for your Low-Sodium or Salt-Free Diet. Whether it seems you are being forced to lower your sodium or doing it by choice, hopefully, the information here will help you stick to a low-sodium diet lifestyle.

The doctor says no salt…now what?

First take the salt shaker off the table.

Just eliminating salt from the table and your cooking will help a lot in reducing the sodium in your diet.

One teaspoon of table salt is 2368 mg of sodium. Round that off to 2400 mg of sodium in just 1 teaspoon. So you can see that it is very easy to overdo the daily sodium allowance of about 2000 mg. That is just the sodium in salt, not counting the sodium in the other foods you are eating daily. Your body only needs about 368 mg of sodium per day. This is easily attainable without any added salt, including sea salt and Kosher salt. Sea salt has the same amount of sodium as regular salt (just a better balance of minerals which gives different tastes). Kosher salt may look lower sodium on the label but it is just a larger granule. Weight for weight it has the same sodium content as regular salt.

More tips to help you with your low sodium diet:

  • You cannot use high sodium products like most canned products (especially canned soups), prepackaged mixes (dips, hamburger helpers), processed meats (ham, bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, salami), pickled or brined products. Generally, the more processed the food, the higher the sodium. Read the labels for sodium per serving.
  • It is usually better to look for products that say no salt added, than to purchase reduced sodium. Often, reduced sodium still too high in sodium.
  • Do not use bouillon cubes; as a rule they are very high in sodium.
  • Most salad dressings are very high in sodium per serving, so learn how to make your own or use vinegar and oil, or a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • Eliminate most frozen products, especially if they have a sauce or a gravy, (unless they say no salt added).
  • Most low fat products are double or triple in the amount of sodium per serving (just be aware).
  • Go easy with high sodium condiments, such as soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickles and olives, barbecue sauce.
  • Using unsalted butter instead of salted saves additional sodium and tastes better.
  • Avoid MSG (monsodium glutamate), which is in most processed foods. The seasoning Accent is MSG.
  • Water – read your labels, as many bottled waters have salt added. No water softeners. There are no salt water softeners.
  • Salt and sugar can cover up many undesirable flavors. They are the first two ingredients on most seasoning labels.
  • Read your labels to avoid added salt and the words sodium, nitrates, nitrites, sulfates, and sulfites.
  • Sea salt, kosher salt and other fancy or designer type salts have the same sodium per weight as regular table salt.

Eating Out On A Low Sodium Diet:

  • Choose plain foods like grilled or roasted entrees, baked potatoes and salad with oil and vinegar. Batter-fried foods and combination dishes, like stews or pasta with sauce, most anything with a soup, sauce, gravy or salad dressing will tend to be high in sodium.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon or limes over food or salads. Even vinegars help give your food a lift without salt.
  • Ask to have no salt added when the food is prepared.
  • Take #103 Table Tasty with you to the restaurant.

Learning to cook salt free and low sodium means mostly cooking from scratch. Cook by using fresh, high quality ingredients. Eat and cook with more fresh fruits and vegetables. Try new varieties of fruits, vegetables and new high quality products. The fresher the better the flavor. Here is a link to help you find your local farmers market http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/map.htm

Learn to use other flavors like fresh garlic, fresh herbs, wine, vinegars, juices, marinades, etc. to get additional flavor without salt. Always, have fresh lemons or limes available. Just a squeeze adds a nice brightness to your food to get away from bland. Your tongue has trouble deciding between salt and sour. You pucker up either way. Many salt free folks use a lot of black pepper, (freshly ground has a stronger flavor and aroma), also spicier flavors like chilies, salsas and cayenne. If you don’t eat spicy now (it doesn’t have to be hot), you may a little further down the road as your taste buds change.

When cooking, take more time to brown. Browning especially slowly, allows a rich dark brown, which adds a tremendous amount of flavor. Don’t rush the food. Taking a little more time to cook and prepare your meal, will allow more flavor into the food.

Salt free, low sodium cooking is a very different way, a new way of cooking for most, but it’s a good way of cooking. Getting back to basics, planning ahead, making extra for leftovers (most times leftovers have even better flavor). Many of my recipes you only need a 12-inch nonstick frypan. Investing in a crockpot and a pressure cooker are great methods for getting a lot of flavor. My brother Randy used to tease me about this. He would say “Dinner in 12 hours or 12 minutes”.

I’m here to help. I love to cook and have cooked salt free most of my life.

It’s not that I am so anti-salt. Salt has its place. I am however, anti-salt in seasonings because the more seasoning you add, the more salt you are adding. You lose control over the amount of sodium in the dish. Usually, you have no clue. Sodium can add up quickly. Many who are forced to give up salt (Dr. says) find it very difficult to enjoy food. It takes time, on average (depending on how much you cheat) about 3 months for the taste buds to adjust to food without salt and if the food seasoned properly it can be enjoyed). Yes, enjoyed. Salt is just a habit and after a while without it or so much of it, you will start to taste the food and not just the salt. Then, foods you used to enjoy you might not enjoy so much because it just tastes like salt.

I know so many of you are here because of high blood pressure, a heart attack or stroke or other illness. Some of you are here and following a low sodium diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. Some of you just like to cook and are looking for new recipes and seasonings. I’m glad you’re all here.

Give Benson’s Gourmet Seasonings a try, they will definitely will help your low sodium diet.


Debbie Benson