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Seasoning Food with Impact

While salt may be an easy way to make food taste better, it is not good to eat too much salt since it may raise your blood pressure or worsen your heart health in general. And generally, Americans eat too much sodium. But the world of seasoning without sodium (a major part of salt) is tricky to navigate. Here is some advice to help on your way to seasoning without salt.

Add acid. Lemon juice and vinegar can curb salt cravings when added to a dish. You may not need much, so use a light hand when adding to foods.  

Season with spices other than salt. Pepper is a common and widely accepted salt-free seasoning. Mrs. Dash has a line of seasoning blends that are made up of herbs and spices; they contain neither sodium nor salt. Try basil, oregano, and/or parsley for Italian dishes. Try cumin, paprika, cilantro, lime juice, and/or pepper for Latin dishes. Try coriander and/or turmeric for Indian dishes.

Use flavorful vegetables and herbs. Chop up vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bell peppers, or other vegetables and cook in oil until soft. Alternatively, you can cook these vegetables until they have a beautiful caramel color, which will provide a sweeter flavor. Think of fajitas. The caramelized onions and bell peppers give the meal a delicious, slightly sweet addition that the grilled chicken or steak would not be the same without. Any way you cook them, vegetables add a wonderful depth of flavor to many dishes.

Avoid salt substitutes, such as No Salt, Nu Salt, and Lite Salt, because they are high in potassium. Too much potassium from salt substitutes can be dangerous. 

If you have to use salt, do so sparingly. Use half or a quarter of the salt that a recipe calls for (except when canning – don’t adjust the salt content of canning recipes). Sprinkle a little salt on top of something, then see how it tastes. Use the least amount of salt you can get away with. Buy a salt blend (season salt, for example) that is lower in sodium than the original.

Finally, start today. Cut back on salt and try your hand at adding other seasonings to season your food with impact.

Lynn Grant R.D., L.D., CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She works at Capital Region Medical Center and provides diabetes education and outpatient nutrition counseling by appointment. She also writes a weekly blog, which you can view at nutritionnotions.wordpress.com.