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Does brining add to the sodium content of food?

I tried doing a search, but don't really have a couple of days to sort through all the topics about brining. So, bottom line, if I brine a chicken will that raise the sodium content of the chicken? We have to have a low sodium diet, so is brining safe or not?

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  1. I am in the same boat as far as following a low sodium diet (I fall off the wagon frequently though). Unfortunately, brining will raise the sodium content of a chicken. I'm not sure by how much, but if you want to play it safe you might want to skip it.

    1. It certainly does raise the content, but there's too many variables (time/amount of salt in brine/meat) to say how much for sure. It mostly depends on how limited your salt should be. If it's serious, then I'd say brining is a no-no. If it's moderate, you should be fine, as long as you keep the rest of the food in check. In the end let your tongue be the judge of how salty it is.

      1. Theoretically, most of the salt you add to the chicken in a dry brine gets pulled into the meat (kind of the purpose of a salt brine) so you end up eating that salt.

        1. Maybe try injecting your bird instead.
          Beer, garlic oil and spices without the salt. It's kind of like brining in that it has virtually the same affect only it's quicker!

          1. Do you normally salt your chicken, before or after cooking? Brining should reduce the need to apply any further salt.

            5 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              No I don't salt the chicken. I use either a combo of different herbs and garlic, or a Mrs. Dash seasoning blend. If I use a rub it is a low salt one. but I don't normally use that on chicken.

              I do use injectors, so I guess that is what I will stick with. I have 4 different kinds of salt in the house. Maybe one will less "unhealthy" than the others. Of course I can tell by the numbers, but if I use one of the lower count ones,and use less of it, do you think that will work?
              1. Morton's w/iodine 25% sodium
              2. Morton coarse kosher salt 20% sodium
              3. Spice Islands Adjustable grinder Mediterranean sea salt 27% sodium
              4. Alessi natural Fine ground sea salt from the Mediterranean 20% sodium

              1. re: danhole

                those numbers reflect the percent of the daily recommended value, per serving, which varies. There is no salt that more or less healthy than another salt. Course kosher salt may appear to have "less sodium" but that probably just reflects the fact that it is less dense. Trace minerals and iodine make a slight, but inconsequential difference.

                1. re: kindofabigdeal

                  All of them had the same serving size, so does that make a difference?

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    They are all mostly sodium chloride - salt, which is equal proportions of sodium and chlorine. That is equal when counting atoms. Since sodium atoms are lighter, with weight proportion may be in 30% range.

                    These salts differ mainly in the grain size. If measured by weight, it doesn't matter which you use in a brine or cooking. When applied at the table or just before serving, the coarser grain salts generally provide more of a salty taste for a given amount of sodium.

                    So the coarser grain salts are better for you, IF less (weight wise) gives you more taste.


              2. Brining isn't the most effective method for you to flavor a chicken if you are trying to lower your sodium intake. The reason brining works is because the sodium the chicken draws in also attracts water, making the chicken moist. Without the sodium, you are doing nothing more than giving the bird a bath. Regardless of the sodium content of your salt, the bird will still absorb the sodium in the brine.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JungMann

                  Actually, the primary reason it works is because the sodium denatures the proteins.

                2. Not the whole answer, but here's an article comparing commercial "enhanced" chicken with uninjected that will give you some idea:


                  "An untreated chicken contains about 40 to 80 milligrams of sodium per four-ounce serving, the coalition said. Pilgrim's Pride uses chicken broth, salt and carrageenan, or seaweed extract, for enhancement. Its packages of boneless breasts, which bear a sign of the American Heart Association's approval, contain 330 milligrams of sodium per serving. Tyson's contain 180 milligrams."

                  My approach to restricting sodium is to do some careful bookkeeping. You can enjoy almost any food you like if you fend off less enticing foods that tend to be trojan horses for sodium, like bread products. A plain bagel has considerably more salt than that Pilgrim's Pride chicken breast, and a slice of bread may have as much as the Tyson's.