10 Low-Sodium Hacks to Make the No-Salt Life Bearable

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Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Salt Foe

Reducing one's sodium (salt) intake can be highly beneficial for individuals with conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, or liver problems in managing and reducing the risk of complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine out of 10 Americans consume more sodium than they should — and this prolonged overconsumption can increase our risk of heart and kidney disease, along with a slew of other health problems

But cutting back on salt can lead to meals that taste bland, or downright unappetizing. If you're tired of having to settle for less-than-stellar meals, you've come to the right place. We've got you covered with these 10 ways to enhance the taste of your meals without having to add extra sodium. 

Related: 26 Secrets for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Herbs and Spices

1. Increase the Use of Herbs and Spices

Instead of relying on salt to enhance the flavor of meals, use a variety of herbs and spices like basil, oregano, paprika, or garlic powder. These can add depth and complexity to your dishes without contributing any sodium. Experimenting with different flavor combinations can also lead to exciting discoveries. Just remember to check the label to make sure there is no salt included in the ingredients. 

Citrus fresh fruits

2. Incorporate Citrus and Zest

Adding lemon or lime juice, along with the zest, can brighten up the flavors of just about any dish — even desserts. The acidity and fragrance help enhance the natural taste of your ingredients to help make dishes more appealing without the need for salt. If you want to keep flavors on the sweeter or milder side, consider adding a squeeze of orange juice  to add a gentle, refreshing lift to dishes.

Related: Cook Like a Chef: 10 Easy Tricks for Creating Gourmet Dishes

Apple cider vinegar and apples.
Vadym Sirobaba/istockphoto

3. Add a Dash of Vinegar

A splash of vinegar can enhance the sweetness in vegetables and add a sharp contrast that highlights different flavors in your dish. Whether you're using balsamic, red wine, apple cider, or white vinegar, the acidity in vinegar can add a new dimension to your meals while helping to balance the overall flavor profile of the dish. 

And Veggies
AS Food studio/shutterstock

4. Roast or Caramelize Your Veggies

Whether you're roasting vegetables in the oven, grill, or caramelizing onions on a stovetop, giving them a bit of char can bring out their natural sweetness and flavors while reducing the need for added salt. The process of roasting also enhances the inherent sugars found in veggies to help add a rich depth to your meals. 

Related: 10 Foolproof Hacks To Make Frozen Vegetables Taste Fresh

Chopped spring onions.

5. Add Onion or Garlic

Sauteing onions, chives, and garlic can serve as a foundation for many dishes to help give them a rich flavor base to diminish the need for additional salt. These ingredients are considered essential in many cuisines and their fragrant aroma can add a savory depth that enriches and elevates the taste profile of most dishes. 

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Grilled red peppers on a grill plate, close-up, top view.

6. Try Smoked Paprika or Chipotle Powder

These spices add a depth of flavor and texture to mimic the depth that salt can bring to dishes like soups, stews, grilled veggies, and taco fillings. Smoked paprika, which is made from dried and smoked pimento peppers, offers a deep, woodsy aroma and warm, earthy flavor, while the chipotle delivers a smoky taste along with a spicy kick.

Related: 15 Spices and Spice Blends That Will Make Almost Any Meal Better

POV, Miso Soup, Eating Japanese Food with Soup Spoon

7. Use Umami-Rich Ingredients

Ingredients like mushrooms, tomatoes, and fermented foods like kimchi or miso can add a savory, umami quality to dishes to help them taste fuller and more satisfying. In a pinch, you can also add a bit of monosodium glutamate (MSG), which provides a concentrated source of umami flavor and contains considerably less sodium than table salt. And don't worry — the myth that MSG is bad for you has been debunked. 

Related: Is MSG Actually Bad for You? Here's Why the Flavor Enhancer Has a Bad Rap

Ingredients: Capers Isolated on White Background

8. Incorporate Acid With Pickles or Capers

Though they can be quite high in sodium, using small amounts of pickles, capers, or pickled vegetables can add a burst of flavor and brightness without the need to add salt. By using these ingredients sparingly, you can infuse ingredients with a distinctive tangy and briny flavor to enhance the overall taste profile of your dishes. 

Related: The 8 Best Dill Pickles You Can Buy at the Grocery Store

Bone broth made from chicken

9. Boost Flavors With Stocks and Broths

To further reduce your sodium intake without compromising on taste and quality, consider incorporating low-sodium or homemade stocks and broths when cooking. These can add an impressive layer of depth to soups, stews, and grains without the high-sodium content of their store-bought counterparts. 

Sweet Potato Fries With Tahini
lll0228 / istockphoto

10. Experiment With Nut and Seed Butters

Nut and seed butters, such as almond butter, tahini (sesame seed butter), or sunflower seed butter, can add a rich, creamy texture and a nutty flavor to various dishes without adding extra sodium. They work well in dressings, sauces, soups, and spreads, offering a satisfying depth of flavor. Plus, they're packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to help give your meals an extra nutritional boost.