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Salt Alternatives...Salternatives?

Hello fellow chowsters,

I searched the forums for salt alternatives and sodium and did not see a thread on salt alternatives. With recent news/health trends focusing on salt/sodium consumption I'm looking for something to season my foods that has less sodium. I know most of people's sodium consumption comes from processed foods and restaurant dishes, but I want to find something to season my home meals with that might be healthier for me.

I love radishes or celery dashed with salt. Perfect snack for me, not for my blood pressure.
Tried Mrs. Dash and promptly plunked it into the trash.

If anyone has any tips or suggestions, I'm all ears.

BTW: I went to Boar's Head web site. Their "low sodium" products are a lot higher in sodium than most of their beef products. Granted the beef has more calories and sat. fat, but it is interesting they don't market their beef products as low sodium.

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  1. Have you tried vinegar or fresh lemon or lime juice? All are very good with veggies (separately, that is)...WORD UP: if you want to cut your sodium, plain out DITCH the lunch meats...that.is.all.

    1. Can I ask a personal question? Do you know if your hypertension is actually sodium sensitive? It's a minority of hypertensive people with the sodium-sensitive version, though doctors often just play it safe and treat every one as if they were.]

      You don't need to answer that here. I just wanted to put that as an aside, because a *lot* of people are not aware of this, including general practioners. That doesn't mean it's not a good thing to reduce reliance on processed foods and the like, but it might make the difference in maintaining a healthier diet of things like radishes with a little bit of salt (my impression of radical dietary moves to avoid a specific feared ingredient is that the cure is frequently worse than the disease).

      2 Replies
      1. re: Karl S

        The best tasting salt alternative I have come across is Rite Salt, only available through Pharmacies in Ireland to the best of my knowledge.No metallic after taste and also contains minerals that help maintain a healthy heart

        1. re: tarbert

          Rite Salt can be ordered directly from Tarmons Healthcare.
          Unit 4 Hawthorns,
          County Limerick.
          Telephone 00 353 61 330815
          It is not cheap @Euro6 per 85g shaker.

          I notice the company concerned are currently building a website.

      2. vinegar is a good suggestion in terms of punchy flavor.

        have you tried drying your own herbs, like basil, parsley, celery leaves, etc. in a toaster? combine with some *finely* minced and dried onions and carrots, and lemon/orange rind.

        this may sound like an odd suggestion, but would you consider using a (veggie) stock to sprinkle over, and do it homemade with garlic, onions, celery carrots, herbs, etc. season, reduce and strain?

        1. Another point, if I may: try eating the radishes and celery bare-naked. Your taste will eventually change and you will start to taste the REAL flavor of these vegetables...and then (hopefully) you will not care about the salt anymore.

          1. Hi -
            If you are looking for a salt substitute for "salty" flavor, good luck.
            There might be something, but if there is, it's new. The best thing I've ever found is a product called AlsoSalt. When used VERY SPARINGLY, it can add a hint of a salty taste without the horrid aftertaste of all of the other subs I've tried. That being said, I agree 10000000000000000000 percent with Val, (and all of the other ppl who have said the exact same thing in these "looking for salt sub" threads.) Your palate will adjust and the amount of salt you need for something to taste "salty" will gradually diminish. I know this firsthand. A regular potato chip makes me cringe. Regular jarred green olives make me wince just thinking about them.

            One of the other things that helps is to focus opn foods you love that are already low in sodium. Summer fruits? Red seedless grapes are almost sugar sweet right now. Cherries and melons are around the corner. When those are done, it's apple/pear season, then it's orange season in winter.

            Processed deli counter meats are generally horrible - especially when you get into the cured stuff. Sara Lee also makes some "Lower Sodium" items. Roast Beef is usually lower sodium option in the deli case for whatever reason. I've noticed this as well. Not always tho.

            A sauce I use that has a salty taste ( to me, anyway:)
            Unsalted butter, a dash of balsamic vinegar, a dash of lemon juice, and some evoo.
            Heat it all up, add garlic, assorted spices you like.
            I use this to dress sauteed veggies, and for some reason, it tastes salty to me, and also the oil/fat adds a great mouthfeel and fullness.

            One more thing:
            LOW sodium, and LOWER sodium are two different things. Things with a LOW SODIUM label have to meet some kind of standard. LOWER sodium label just means the item has less sodium than a similar product.

            1. Wow, thanks to all for the great info and comments. I will try all your suggestions, esp. just weaning myself from amount used and adjusting my palate. I love and always have garlic, parsely, cilantro, lemons, limes, and balsalmic on hand. I will experiment. I'm weaning myself off processed foods. I will scrutinize product labels.

              Val, don't know if I can give up lunch meat. I'll focus on low sodium options w/ less than 10% USDA Rec/serving

              Karl S,
              Not sure if I am sodium sensitive, but would prefer to have my sodium consumption w/in USDA guidelines or there about. It was after reading some recent articles (media food concern of the week), that I started examining my salt intake and did not like what I saw. One out of 18 U.S. citizens consume the recommended amount or below. Thank you for you comment.

              Just doing my patriotic duty to be healthy, fit, and lower medical costs.

              3 Replies
              1. re: perrywillis

                Just so you know: USDA guidelines for sodium are somewhat arbitrary. That is, other countries have other standards, sometimes twice as high. While I don't people should take them cum grano salis, they should also realize the standards don't represent Delphic wisdom.

                1. re: Karl S

                  Agreed. I've seen this comment several times. Kind of like the 6-8 glasses of water a day. I do not believe that amount is data driven. I run so I'm probably okay with more than the USDA guideline (saw that referenced somewhere). You're a fountain of information, sir.

                  1. re: perrywillis

                    Actually the numbers are completely arbitrary. Getting rid of processed food is a good thing but if you want to put salt on your steak or use salted butter go for it.

              2. Try using fresh lemon juice combined with freshly-minced garlic. You can also by low-sodium mushroom extract at some Chinese markets. Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire sauce (regular version) is also low sodium.

                1. Check out the salt-free offerings at Penzey's. I like Mural of Flavor.


                  1 Reply
                  1. Unless you're being heavy-handed with salt or are very, very sensitive, I can't imagine that salt that you season with is the culprit. Once you start looking at the labeling on processed foods and avoiding them, you're probably on solid ground. One of the things I like about kosher salt is that I can "pinch" a tiny bit, sprinkle from "on high" and get lots of flavor with very little salt. As I always say, please talk to your doctor not Chowhounds about health-related issues.

                      1. The biggest thing you can do to cut salt is to ditch as much processed food and snacks as possible. Skip the fast food, lunch meats, canned soups, canned pasta, pre-made sauces, chips/pretzels/nachos and so on. These products tend to have absurd amounts of salt in them, to jack up the flavour.

                        In parallel with that, cut down the amount of salt you use while cooking. Not totally, but reduce the amount, and only add salt to taste at the end of the cooking, rather than dumping it in automatically. If you reduce the amount of salt you consume regularly, then your tastebuds will adjust, and you will find that salty flavours taste more salty.

                        As far as getting more punch in your flavours - lemon and lime juice are wonderful for this, particularly fresh, as is vinegar (try balsamic too). Strong seasonings like garlic, ginger, chilis as well as herbs and spices add more flavour.

                        I like a mixture of chili powder (like you use for chili con carne), ground cumin and granulated garlic for dipping veggies in (or fresh lime slices). Add a little bit of salt, but not too much. For stuff like this, try very finely ground salt like popcorn salt to get a larger surface area for the salt crystals, getting a saltier taste for the same amount of sodium.

                        1. Supermarkets have alternatives, one is Morton Lite Salt with half the sodium of table salt, another is No Salt is has no sodium just all potassium chloride.

                          1. Stop worrying about Salt intake.
                            Jeepers! Now we've got government sticking its hands into our spice rack!
                            Ohh. Sorry if I've offended anyone... It's for YOUR OWN GOOD that they're doing it.

                            Many people suffer health problems because they don't get ENOUGH salt in their diets.

                            At the 2004 European Geriatrics Congress in Vienna, Professor Ingo Fusgen of the Department of Geriatrics at Germany's University of Witten-Herdecke presented research showing that as much as 10 percent of seniors may suffer from hyponatraemia (low blood levels of sodium).

                            Hyponatraemia often goes undiagnosed because symptoms are so similar to some of the conditions that we associate with aging, such as fatigue, poor concentration, confusion, poor balance, and incontinence. When hyponatraemia becomes pronounced, hallucinations and even coma may result.

                            Prof. Fusgen also reported that 80 percent of the elderly subjects in his research told him they avoided salt based on the popular misconception that salt intake causes high blood pressure (HBP).

                            In a press release, Prof. Fusgen stated that many otherwise healthy older people might be in danger simply because of the widespread belief that a low-salt diet is healthy.

                            But salt isn't just a tasty addition to your meal -- it's a scientific fact that a low-sodium diet can actually RAISE blood pressure in some people.

                            The so-called experts can't even tell you WHY blood pressure rises in the first place...so you shouldn't trust them to tell you how to lower it, either.

                            If you're generally healthy and stick to a balanced diet, you have no reason to lose the saltshaker. Shake it 'til your wrist gets sore and you'll be just fine.

                            Just stick with pure sea salt -- untreated and unadulterated, it's actually gray. I don't care what fancy- schmancy name is on the label -- if it's snowy white, it's been treated. Toss it out and get the right stuff.

                            And if you eat a steady diet of processed foods and other crapola, you've got much bigger problems than sodium.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: brothertruffle880

                              I hope no one dies following your misplaced advice. Salt is salt and is all poison if taken above 1500 mg per day. If we are healthy we can ward of the poison. 200 mg a day is all we need, the higher number is all we should have to tolerate. If we have certain health issues, then our tolerance drops to as low as 500 mg per day.

                            2. Lately, instead of reaching for the salt shaker, I've been reaching for the garlic powder. Takes care of my need to shake something on my food and gives a nice little flavor boost to boot.

                              1. If you want something that's shelf-stable, TruLemon/TruLime/TruOrange makes both canisters of their powdered lemon/lime/orange (100% natural) and little individual packets. Whole Foods sells them, but they may also be at your local supermarket.

                                1. It's appalling to me the horrible effect that people may have by denying the effects of excess sodium. Shame on you, Karl S. I've respected you for a long time, but I know for a fact the effect of excess salt. I can drop my blood pressure by 20 points by abstaining from too much salt--it takes about 10 days. Fool that I am, I should do this constantly rather waiting to "clean up" my blood 6 weeks before seeing my doctor. I know you're saying this only affects a "minority", but guess what the average reader is going to say--hey, I'm no "minority". I completely applaud whoever on this thread said stay away from lunch meats. I say stay away from all prepared meats. Instead of Trader Joe's prepared meats (which are in any case better than most deli meats) I know but chicken/turkey breast or pork and cut it myself to serving-size portions, cook individually for sandwiches. As for this nitwit who refs some probably bought-and--paid-for professor from some never-heard-of university in Austria, HELLO, so WTF if some seniors suffer from salt deficit. Most are in much more danger from salt excess.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Masonville


                                    I am merely reporting what the studies show. Moreover, I know from personal experience, where I've been required to do salt loading for other tests (like 9g of sodium a day for a few days) that it has no effect on my blood pressure.

                                    So, I am not in denial at all. Back off.

                                  2. In my case I tried to go the same route to get my blood pressure down by reducing salt intake.
                                    Finally I ended up taking a beta blocker and a another drug and the blood pressure dropped like
                                    a rock. That being said I still avoid processed meats and also cut back on fermented products
                                    like soy sauce. Spicy condiments like tabasco sauce have tons of flavor but are low in sodium
                                    and they are claimed to be good for weight loss. I also have to watch what I eat because of gout.
                                    Still I`ve discovered new things like buckwheat kasha which is yummy and the old standbys like
                                    whole wheat pasta, homemade paella make life interesting not to mention good wine, beer ect.

                                    1. Hi perrywillis, have you tried Rite Salt from Tarmonshealthcare.
                                      Let us know