6 Easy Ways to Cut Sodium


By EatingWell Editors

Tips for reducing salt in your diet.

Ever wonder why store-bought frozen pizza or grandma’s beloved canned-soup-based green bean casserole tastes so good? The common denominator in these favorites and many other processed foods is salt – and lots of it. If too much sodium is an issue in your diet, step one in reducing your intake is to do less outsourcing and more of your own cooking—as we do every day in the EatingWell test kitchens. Here, a few rules we follow that can help you lose your own salt tooth. Download a FREE Low-Sodium Dinner Recipes Cookbook!

Next: Use fresh ingredients »


1. Use fresh ingredients over processed whenever you can.

You’ll save umpteen milligrams of sodium by making your own sauces and soups, and simmering dried beans until soft (rather than opening a can). Yes, it’s a time commitment, but if you’re serious about salt reduction it’s time well spent. Make these staples more convenient by cooking them in big batches, and freezing in single-serving portions for later use.

Next: Choose convenience foods wisely »


2. Choose convenience foods wisely.

Opt for frozen (unsauced) vegetables over canned—and when you can’t, seek out low or reduced-sodium varieties. Rinse the foods in a colander before using to get rid of some of the salt. Cut back or eliminate additional salt in a recipe that calls for canned goods.

Next: Don’t add it if you can’t taste it »


3. Don’t add it if you can’t taste it.

As a rule, we don’t add salt to boiling water for pasta or potatoes in our kitchens. We prefer to add salt to a dish when its impact will be strongest—usually at the end of cooking. A little salt goes a longer way if it’s sprinkled on a food just before serving; you’ll taste it in every bite.

Next: Measure, measure »


4. Measure, measure.

We always use measuring spoons when adding salt to be sure we’re not overdoing it. Even if a recipe calls for a “pinch” or to “salt to taste,” measure what you are adding, using a small amount (say, 1/8 teaspoon) at a time and tasting as you go.

Next: Distract your palate »


5. Distract your palate.

Acidic flavorings like lemon or lime juice and vinegar can help bring out a food’s inherent savoriness, helping you reduce or even eliminate salt. Or, try a sprinkle of fresh grated lemon zest, chopped fresh or dried herbs, garlic or shallots; while not always a perfect replacement for salt, they can help ease the transition to lower-salt cooking by waking up other flavors. Get creative with seasoning blends, found in any spice aisle; just make sure they’re labeled “salt-free.” We like lemon pepper, poultry seasoning and salt-free herb blends like Mrs. Dash. (We don’t recommend potassium-chloride-based salt substitutes, which taste “off” to our palates.)

Next: Boost vegetable flavors naturally »


6. Boost vegetable flavors naturally.

Because many vegetables have flavors our palates perceive as bitter, they tend to be a target for lots of added salt in recipes. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker to counteract bitterness, roast or grill your vegetables to help bring out their own natural sweetness and give them a nice caramelized exterior.