Salt-free is the way to be

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023


UK-Boyle County Extension

Salt is a staple in the American diet. Salt is mainly sodium, when eaten in excess as we usually do, can cause high blood pressure. That’s the just the beginning of the negative health effects a high sodium diet can cause. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, increased risk for heart attack and stroke are just a few more.

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Not to mention the damage it can cause to your kidneys…ok, I think you get the picture.

Everyone, including kids, should lower their salt intake to 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon) a day.

People with high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and the African American population should lower their intake to 1,500 mg per day. Reducing the amount of sodium you take in everyday can reduce your risk of developing these chronic diseases. I can’t think of a better motivation tool than good health and longevity.

Although 1 teaspoon of salt per day might sound like an unreachable goal, it really isn’t. There are plenty of simple swaps you can choose when it comes to lowering your salt intake. Try using more fresh foods instead of canned or processed foods which are often times very high in sodium. One of the best tricks is to remove the salt shaker from the table. It’s easy to add extra salt to a dish out of habit before you even taste it. Also, try using things such as fresh herbs or salt free seasoning blends like Mrs. Dash or Chef Paul’s to add big flavor in a healthy way.

Tips to Cut the Salt:

• Fresh foods are often low in salt. Drain and rinse canned veggies before eating.

• Spices and herbs add flavor without sodium.

• Skip store bought salad dressings and get creative with olive oil , vinegars and herbs.

• Read food labels and choose foods with 500 mg of sodium or less. Lunch meats are high in sodium, swap for beans or hummus as an alternative protein.

• Think about condiments. Foods like ketchup, soy sauce, pickles, and seasoning packets are high in sodium. Choose low sodium options if available.

Cooking healthier doesn’t mean eating bland, flavorless food. There are plenty of ways to get that flavor you’re looking for without pouring on the salt. Get creative in the kitchen. Play around with flavors that you enjoy. Oregano and thyme are herbs common in Greek and Italian cooking that add a Mediterranean flavor to any dish. Cumin is a spice ground from the seed of an herb similar to parsley which can add a Latin flavor. Check out this simple seasoning blend that you can try at home on meats, fish, and poultry. Feel free to add different herbs and spices to it to create your own house blend. Add some olive oil to this to make a rub or as a marinade.

All you need are these four components to make your own signature salad dressing recipe by substituting different ingredients that you have on hand or that you find at the store.

•Oil: try canola or olive oil. They have different flavors, but they both have healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Canola oil costs much less and will make your homemade salad dressing a bargain compared to store-bought salad dressings.

•Acid: try different flavors of vinegar or try fruit juice. With fruit juices, you can typically use more acid and less oil, making a lower-fat salad dressing.

•Seasonings: any herbs or spices, pepper, sugar, mustard, chopped fruits (such as berries or peaches), or chopped vegetables (such as onions or peppers).

•Creamy dressing: add mayo, sour cream, or avocado.

If you’re interested in learning more about your health as well as how to cook salt free call the Boyle County Extension Office. Between Lunch and Learn and Recipe Club you have plenty of ways to find low sodium recipes to try.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact Alethea by email at