16 Best Salt Alternatives to Cut Down on Sodium
Unfortunately for our taste buds, excess salt can damage your health. But, this doesn’t mean you have to eat bland meals – there are plenty of salt alternatives that can enhance the flavor of your dishes. We will be describing how you can incorporate various herbs and healthy salt substitutes into your home cooking.
Although the CDC recommends that American adults consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day or less, studies have shown that we consume around 3,400mg of salt per day on average. While it’s definitely easy to go overboard on sodium while eating out, a lot of people don’t realize they can do so when cooking at home as well.
Not only do salty meals make you feel bloated, but studies have consistently linked increased salt intake with conditions like higher blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease or coronary failure, stroke, and certain types of cancer.
So, the best way to manage your salt intake is to find salt alternatives that still bring exciting flavors to your food. And of course, avoid eating fast foods or processed foods. Cook at home! This allows you to test out different types of spices and seasonings that add great flavor to your food.
Check out the list below (in no particular order) for some of the herbs and spices that can serve as healthy salt substitutes!
In addition to having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other health benefits, cinnamon is a great way to add flavor to your food without adding excess salt or added sugar.
Sprinkle it on oatmeal, drinks, grains, or even on fruits and vegetables for an amazing little kick of flavor.
Oregano gives your dishes that slightly-bitter-but-also-aromatic taste. It’s a distinct flavor that goes great in sauces, proteins, and grains. This natural salt substitute is pretty versatile – you can add it either fresh or dried to your dishes.
In addition to providing distinct anti-inflammatory health benefits, turmeric is a great natural salt substitute. It’s used in many different types of curries, but you can also use a pinch of it to spice up soups, stews, sauces, and vegetables.
Nutritional yeast not only serves as a fantastic plant-based cheese substitute, but it contains a wealth of vitamin B, fiber, and even some protein.
This seasoning can add some easy flavor to your dishes without shooting up your sodium intake—it’s a great alternative to salt.
We often think of salt and pepper as an inseparable pair, but pepper goes great by itself on tons of dishes. Some studies have also linked pepper with lowered levels of inflammation, which is a great added health benefit.
Pepper is a great healthy salt substitute, and goes well on nearly everything.
Garlic adds great sodium-free flavor, and it's been associated with a stronger immune system, lowered blood pressure, and healthy cholesterol levels.
Overall, it’s a great salt substitute that you can add to a variety of dishes for added flavor without adding sodium.
Cayenne is actually a specific type of chili, and it will definitely add some extra heat to your dish. Substitute cayenne pepper for store-bought hot sauce to avoid the added sodium that it’s included in many brands of hot sauce.
Cayenne also boosts your metabolism, and is, overall, a great natural salt substitute.
Use it fresh or dried! Adding thyme is a great way to boost the flavor in veggies and stews—it’s a great alternative to salt. Additionally, various studies have linked thyme to lowered blood sugar and cholesterol.
Fresh mint works with many sweet or savory dishes, plus it's super easy to grow at your house. It’s a great healthy salt substitute for salads, pasta, or other veggie dishes.
Basil brings a great taste and aroma to your cooking, and it complements so many dishes. It’s not only a healthy salt alternative, but it’s packed with vitamins K, C, A, and E, coupled with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.
Basil can be blended into pesto or used to top pizzas, salads, or other dishes. You can even include it in an oil and vinegar homemade dressing!
Coriander leaves bring a distinctive earthy, lemon-esque flavor to your dishes; coriander seeds, on the other hand, give a warm, spicy, citrus-type flavor.
The seeds can be fried or the leaves added raw—both are a healthy alternative to salt! They’re most commonly used in Mexican or Indian dishes.
Saffron gives off a taste slightly like honey. It’s important to use this salt substitute in moderation, because too much can make your dish taste bitter. Saffron is often added to paella, a Spanish staple, or risotto. Additionally, it can be a great salt alternative for baking!
If a recipe calls for soy sauce, try out coconut aminos instead. This contains about 60% less sodium than the typical soy sauce, plus it has a delicious sweet hint to it. It’s delicious on sushi, fried rice, noodles, and any other dish that pairs well with soy sauce!
It does taste a bit different than soy sauce, so make sure to taste and make sure you like it first. It’s also not completely salt-free and has a bit of natural sugar, so make sure to watch how much you use.
Lemon or Lime Juice
For many recipes, acids (such as lemon and lime juice) do an excellent job at adding a unique bite in replacement of salt.
On a similar note, various types of vinegar can add some enticing flavor to your dishes and provide the illusion of salt. It works great for sauces!
Most grocery stores have some salt-free spice blends in their seasoning section. If you're a cooking newbie and don't know where to start with the list above, you might prefer to purchase one of these. These blends try to replicate salt and are often labeled "salt-free seasoning" or something similar.
Top Recipes That Use Salt Alternatives
Overall, switching out salt for some of these herbs and other alternatives can be a great way to cut down on sodium. To make it easier, it’s a good idea to be cautious about the meals you choose when cooking at home. Some recipes can use salt substitutes super easily, while others tend to lack flavor without salt (even when using the best salt-free alternatives). It’s best to choose recipes that already use the best salt alternatives or recommend them to you!