Current Issue

You know you should stop adding salt to your food—or at least reduce it—but what else can you use?

Salt requirement

We need only a small amount of salt (500 mg daily) to survive, yet most people exceed this by up to ten times in their daily diet. Health authorities now generally recommend that we consume no more than six grams daily (2,400 mg), and even less (1,600 mg) for those who are overweight or have high blood pressure.

But apart from basing your meals on fresh foods and choosing low-salt processed foods, why not also replace your salt shaker?

Salt replacements

Nature has provided numerous ways to flavor your food without salt. Here are four salt-free seasonings you can use instead.

  • Lemon juice is perfect for finishing salads, soups, and stews. For example, it’s amazing how a squeeze of lemon juice can lift a simple lentil soup to new heights.
  • Fresh and dried herbs. Use these liberally in your cooking and before serving food. Dried oregano sprinkled on a mixed salad not only adds flavor but boosts the antioxidant content.
  • Dulse granules or blended seaweed flakes. Dried seaweed is a novel way to boost flavor in food while also adding iodine and other minerals like iron and calcium. While it isn’t part of the typical Western diet, it’s been used by Asian cultures for centuries. A strip of kombu added to broths and stews also makes them taste more “meaty,” because it boosts the umami flavor (the fifth taste after sweet, sour, bitter, and salty).
  • Nutritional yeast seasoning is dairy free and adds a cheesy flavor. It dissolves well in pasta sauces, soups, and casseroles. Buy it as flakes or powder from health food shops. It isn’t the same as brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast, both of which taste bitter.

Taste bud recovery

Don’t expect miracles with your taste buds overnight. It takes four weeks to get used to a lower-salt diet. But your sense of taste will recover, making it possible for you to detect and enjoy natural and subtle flavors in food. If you find going cold turkey difficult, try cutting back on the amount of salt you use gradually. If you’re taking fluid tablets (diuretics), advise your doctor before drastically slashing the salt.

Nutritionist Sue Radd is the award-winning author of The Breakfast Book and coauthor of Eat to Live, internationally acclaimed for showing how savvy eating can combat cancer and heart disease and improve wellbeing. See for more nutritional information.

Food Matters: Shaking Your Salt Habit

by Sue Radd
From the February 2016 Signs