Cooking Low Sodium

Low Sodium Cooking Tips

   Have you been told you need to reduce or eliminate salt in your diet? Your initial thought is you could simply stop using the salt shaker. Now you are reading Nutrition Facts panels and discover salt is called sodium and there is an excess amount in everything you eat. You have probably also discovered how difficult grocery shopping and meal preparation is with this low sodium diet.

Below are helpful tips to make your low sodium lifestyle less daunting. 

Cooking Tips:

  • Cook from scratch. Know the sodium content in each of the ingredients used to prepare a meal or snack.
  • Be very wary of “heart healthy” and other good for you type claims on food packages. These foods may offer benefits addressing other health issues. But, in most cases, the sodium content is very high. Even many of the low sodium versions of packaged foods are still very high. Always read the sodium content and serving size on the package.
  • Use a kitchen scale. Calculate the weight of food to determine the sodium count. As an example, a skinless chicken breast has approximately 20 mg of sodium per ounce. Your chicken breast weighs 3.5 ounces = 70 mg of sodium. You'll love having a scale.
  • Throw away your salt shaker. Replace it with MySALT®.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types. Natural steaks, roasts, and hamburger are all low in sodium and usually contain three to five times more potassium than sodium. Once meats are processed into things like hot dogs, sausage, and smoked, cured, and deli meats, they are loaded with salt. AND their all-important potassium-to-sodium ratio is reversed.
  • Avoid chicken or turkey that is pre-basted. It always has extra salt added to it. It is usually injected with solutions that contain not only refined salt, but also things like partially hydrogenated oil, artificial flavor, and sodium containing preservatives. Always purchase fresh, unprocessed chicken and turkey.
  • Also avoid pre-marinated chicken or turkey cutlets. Salt is almost always one of the marinade's top ingredients.
  • Saltwater fish have only slightly more sodium than freshwater fish, but both are low in sodium.
  • Avoid breaded fish fillets. The breading used to coat the fish is high in salt.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables over canned vegetables whenever possible. Although you can wash away some of the sodium in canned veggies, you can't restore the potassium that is eliminated during canning.
  • If you must use canned vegetables, choose the "no salt added" varieties.
  • Do not try to get more vegetables into your diet by drinking vegetable juice cocktail. Hidden in V-8 type drinks, drinks that sound so healthy, is 600+ milligrams of sodium in a tiny little six ounce serving. Bloody Mary mixes have twice as much or more!
  • Use a bread machine and bake your own bread using sodium free baking powder.
  • Rinse canned foods, such as vegetables and tuna to remove some sodium.
  • When available, buy low or reduced sodium, or no salt added versions of foods. Add MySALT® to replace the salty flavor.
  • Use low sodium cookbooks. You may find it easier to adapt to your new way of eating by using new recipes.
  • Search for low sodium foods on the Internet. When you find products of interest, check to find where they are available in your area. You can also purchase them online. 
  • Use the Internet as a tool to search for low sodium foods and make your grocery list. Write down the food product, the name of the manufacturer, and the sodium content of each item. This is so much easier and less frustrating than standing in the grocery aisle reading labels on hundreds of choices trying to determine which one has the lowest sodium content.
  • Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are low in sodium.
  • MySALT Signature Seasoning mixes are sodium free or very low sodium. Use as intended or as a base for a meal. 

Worth Repeating: Cook from scratch! Food in its natural state has enough sodium to give you what your body requires.

Recognize which foods are high in sodium and take control of what you eat.

  • De-emphasize the use of processed foods where salt is used to excess.
  • Convenience foods may be convenient, but are laden with sodium. By convenient I mean, if the food is packaged in a box or can or is easy to eat or quick to prepare, it probably has too much salt. The same for frozen one step meals like frozen dinners, appetizers, and pizza.
  • In my opinion, Fat Free actually means “Way Too Much Salt.” Any label on a package that claims their food is fat free should be required to state, “We took the fat out. Now our food has no taste, so we poured in extra salt to give it flavor!”
  • The following foods have a lot of salt in them: canned soups, chili, salad dressings, pasta sauces, gravies, broths, sauces and marinades. Many brands of canned soup and chili have more sodium in each can than you should consume in an entire day. If you must eat them, compare different brands and choose the one with the lowest sodium content.
  • An interesting fact: The Latin root of the word sauce is salt.
  • Any packaged food that comes with a sauce, such as frozen vegetables in butter sauce, usually has too much sodium.
  • Cut back on instant flavored rice or pasta. If you open the package and there is a seasoning packet inside, it is a good bet that the sodium content is very high.
  • Pay attention to the sodium content of your favorite condiments, particularly meat tenderizer, steak sauce, soy sauce, salsa, and regular ketchup.
  • Avoid gravy packets.
  • Avoid ham, bacon, sausage, and lunch meat.
  • Many varieties of cheese contain a high sodium content.
  • Bread and baked goods have a high sodium content.
  • Do not use self-rising flour. It has salt and leavening agents added to it, a process that creates a high sodium product. Avoid using this product.
  • Avoid salty snack foods such as pretzels, potato chips, salted nuts, olives, and pickles.
  • These terms indicate high sodium content: pickled, smoked, marinated, teriyaki, soy sauce, broth, au jus.
  • Cut out sodium rich medicines such as the antacids Alka-Seltzer and Bromo-Seltzer. A two tablet dose of Alka-Seltzer contains 890 milligrams of sodium while Bromo-Seltzer contains 750 milligrams in just one tablet. These two "medicines" contain more sodium to your diet than many processed foods.
  • There are no good choices at fast food restaurants. Ordering a salad may appear to be the healthy choice, but most salad dressings contain an exorbitant amount of sodium. Many restaurants now have nutritional info.