If your doctor has advised you to reduce salt intake—or if you just want to be healthier—try these tips to reduce your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor.

Salt substitutes

Both dried and fresh herbs and spices add delicious flavor to your meals. You can buy many fresh herbs at the grocery store, in addition to the selections in the dried spice aisle, or easily grow your own herbs in a garden or on a windowsill.

Stock up on spice staples, like garlic and onion powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, pepper, paprika, thyme, and cayenne pepper, and experiment with new spices you haven’t tried before. There is now a wide selection of international spice blends at large grocery stores, such as Ras-El-Hanout, a Moroccan spice mix made of cumin, turmeric, allspice, coriander, and pepper.

Roast or grill

Instead of boiling, try roasting or grilling vegetables. These high-temperature cooking methods cause a chemical reaction that releases hundreds of rich, savory flavor compounds.

Make sure the surface of the food is as dry as possible before cooking (oils and seasonings are fine, but no added water). Grilling and frying meats and fish can produce carcinogenic compounds, so avoid charring or overcooking these foods.

Add acid

A few drops of vinegar or citrus juice boosts flavor and enhances any salt you do use, allowing you to get by with less. Add a squeeze of lime to homemade soup (store-bought soup is extremely high in sodium), put a little balsamic vinegar in your homemade tomato sauce, put orange juice in a chicken marinade, or add Tabasco sauce to chili. Experiment with Meyer lemons, grapefruits, and flavored vinegars.

Get more potassium

A high-potassium diet can blunt the effect of salt on blood pressure by increasing sodium excretion from the body. The Institute of Medicine recommends aiming for 4,700 milligrams(mg) per day of potassium. Good sources include lima beans (969 mg per cup), potatoes (926 mg each), spinach (839 mg per cup), bananas (451 mg), avocados (364 mg per half-cup), kiwifruit (562 mg), yogurt (625 mg), clams (534 mg)
and more.

Check with your doctor before increasing your potassium intake if you have a chronic health condition (such as kidney disease) or take medication, as it may be affected.

Types of salt

Some people think sea salt is healthier than table salt. There are small amounts of minerals and micronutrients in sea salt, but if you are getting the appropriate amount of sodium, these nutrients are not likely to affect your health. And sea salt contains just as much sodium as table salt by weight. One teaspoon of iodized table salt contains about 2,360 mg of sodium.

One teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt comes in lower at 1,680 mg of sodium, and flaked kosher salt is even lower with 1,240 mg of sodium per teaspoon. Forget the potassium chloride salt-substitute sold in shakers at the grocery store—they can have a chemical or metallic taste.

Start small

Try this technique to learn how much salt you actually need: Start with an unsalted sauce. Taste it and notice the flavors. Sip some water, and then add a few drops of an acidic ingredient to the sauce, stir, and taste again. Notice how much brighter and flavorful the dish is. Next, add a pinch of salt, stir and taste. If you taste the salt only on the tip of your tongue, the sauce is undersalted. Take a sip of water, and add another pinch of salt. The dish is perfectly salted when you taste the salt on the middle to the back of your tongue. The food is oversalted if the flavor hits the back of your throat.

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