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No Salt Seasoning: Why It’s a Good Idea to Season Your Food Without Salt

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride ions. While sodium is an important element responsible for essential functions in the body, a lot of people get too much of it. 

The human body requires less than 500 milligrams of sodium per day, but most Americans consume at least 3,400 milligrams per day. The Western diet is loaded with sodium, and the more you eat it, the more you want it.

Eating foods with high sodium levels is a potentially unhealthy eating habit that can have negative consequences. Keep reading to find out exactly why cooking with salt-free seasoning is a good idea.

Sodium helps your body keep fluids in balance in and around cells. It also helps maintain stable blood pressure levels. 

When sodium levels in your body are too high, you retain fluid and your blood pressure rises. High blood pressure over an extended period of time causes the heart to work harder than it should, putting a strain on the whole cardiovascular system. This is one of the biggest risk factors for heart attack and stroke. 

There are many other short-term and long-term effects of excess sodium in the body, including: 

  • Bloating 
  • Puffiness
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis (especially in combination with low calcium intake)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged heart muscle
  • Headaches

Switching to a low-sodium diet is a great way to contribute to prevention of heart attack, stroke, and many chronic diseases. By limiting the amount of salt you eat, you may: 

  • Reduce bloating and puffiness
  • Protect your vision
  • Reduce your risk of diabetes
  • Improve your memory
  • Curb your cravings for salty, processed, and fried foods
  • Build stronger bones 

The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day. 

However, reducing sodium intake more than that may be harmful to certain people. Some studies also suggest that, in addition to reducing your sodium intake, you should also increase your potassium intake by eating fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, and nuts. This could further decrease the risk of heart disease, which is currently the number one “killer” of Americans.

If you’re used to eating salty foods, it may be difficult at first to adjust to a low-sodium diet. Once you’ve been doing it for a few weeks, however, it should come naturally, and your cravings for high-sodium foods will diminish. 

Here are some helpful tips to reduce your daily sodium intake:

  • Switch out processed meats, which contain very high sodium levels, for fresh meat and poultry.
  • Rinse canned foods that contain sodium, such as tuna, beans, and vegetables. 
  • Buy plain fresh frozen vegetables and add your own seasoning rather than buying pre-seasoned vegetables.
  • Make it a habit to read food labels. You may be surprised by how much sodium some food contains. 
  • Buy low-sodium or “no salt added” versions of the foods you love.
  • Prepare your own meals rather than buying instant foods or eating out at restaurants or fast food places.
  • Add more spices to your food to enhance your dishes rather than adding more salt.
  • Always taste your food before adding salt.
  • Be aware that some foods are high in sodium even though they don’t taste salty, such as cottage cheese.

Remember that it takes some time to retrain your taste buds, so even if your food tastes bland to you at first without an extra sprinkling of salt, stick with it.

The trick to salt-free seasoning is to add spices, herbs, and aromatics that contain a lot of flavor. The reason your tastebuds want salt is that salt works by amplifying other flavors in your food. If you start experimenting with new tastes and combinations, you might not feel the need to add as much salt as you normally would. 

Try these no-salt seasonings for flavorful dishes without the added sodium. 

All-purpose no-salt seasoning: 

  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme 
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 tsp lemon zest or orange zest

No-salt Italian seasoning: 

  • 2 Tbsp dried basil 
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • Large pinch of red chili flakes

No-salt Cajun seasoning:

  • 3 Tbsp paprika 
  • 1 ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 ½ Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper 
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano

No-salt Thai seasoning blend: 

  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp dried mint
  • 2 Tbsp dried lemongrass
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried hot Thai chili pepper 
  • 2 Tbsp dried lime zest
  • 2 Tbsp toasted coconut, ground 
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)

After learning about how detrimental excess sodium can be for your health, why not give a low-sodium diet a try? You can make delicious, flavorful dishes without adding a lot of salt. With the no-salt seasoning recipes above, you can surprise your friends and family — and yourself — with no-salt-added meals that really pop!

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/effects-of-excess-sodium-infographic

http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/68/15/1609

https://www.kidney.org/newsletter/top-10-tips-reducing-salt-your-diet

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31376-X/fulltext

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900863#vp_1

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