Be a habit shaker, not a salt shaker
As mentioned in the "Get the Scoop on Sodium" article here in the February issue of My Healthy Lifestyle, the majority of us are consuming too much salt. A good part of the reason is that salt tends to "sneak" into our diet through a wide range of foods, and not just those you might suspect.

Avoiding salt entirely is impossible, not to mention the fact that sodium is essential in small amounts for functions like nerve transmission, proper fluid balance and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Too much salt, however, can lead to serious health problems, including an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. An important step in reducing that risk is to enhance the taste and flavor of your food with healthier alternatives… like the low sodium seasonings, herbs and spices that are listed below along with some ideas for use.

Try these low sodium seasonings instead of salt:green-onion-chives

  • Chives in eggs, pasta, cream or potato soup, corn, potatoes, and salad dressing.
  • garlicGarlic (minced, powdered, or freshly chopped) with shellfish, lamb, soup, dips and sauces, Italian dishes, meats, and poultry.
  • lemonLemon with chicken, fruit salads, grilled or baked fish, shellfish, spinach, and tossed salads.
  • Onion (dried, powdered, or freshly chopped) with beef, liver, egg salad, green salad, casseroles, pasta dishes, and stews.
  • Vinegar (such as balsamic, cider, flavored, red wine, or white) with cucumbers, cooked greens, potatoes, salad dressings, spinach, and seafood.

Some low sodium herbs you can use to replace salt:

  • Basil with eggs, fish and shellfish, beef, liver, veal, tomato sauce, soups, pasta, green salad, and vegetables.
  • Bay leaf with beef, white fish, soups, and tomato dishes.
  • Cilantro, chili powder, and cumin with egg dishes, Mexican food, pork, fish, and rice.
  • Dill weed with breads, chicken, cooked fresh vegetables, cucumbers, fish or shellfish, potato salad, and soup.
  • Marjoram with beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pasta, green salad, cream sauce, eggs, soups, and vegetables.
  • Parsley with stuffing, rice, egg salad, green salad, vegetable salad, baked beans, vegetables, soups, and tomato sauces.
  • Rosemary and thyme with veal, pork, beef, potatoes, cream or tomato sauce, soups, and vegetables.
  • Sage with chicken, turkey, fish, pork, veal, soups, onions, stuffing, tomato sauce, and vegetables.
  • Savory with beef, stuffing, chicken soup, green beans, poultry, red meats, and potatoes.

herb box

These flavorful low sodium spices are a good salt substitute:

  • Cinnamon in custard and pudding, sweet breads, rolls, fruits, fruit salad, pork, pumpkin, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.
  • Cloves in sweet breads, fruit, ham, pork, baked beans, tomatoes, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.
  • Curry powder with beef, veal, chicken, turkey, and fish or potato soup.
  • Ginger with baked fish, carrots, pot roast, ham, chicken, turkey, rice, and fruit.
  • Mace in chicken soup, baked fruit desserts, carrots, cauliflower, custard, fruit jams, lamb, potatoes, and pumpkin.
  • Nutmeg in sweet breads, fruits, vegetables, and custard.
  • Tarragon with eggs, fish or shellfish, chicken, turkey, green salad, soups, sauces, and salad dressings.

Some Thoughts – and Some Caution -- about Low-Sodium Food
While choosing items labeled as lowered salt or reduced sodium may seem like a good strategy for following a reduced-sodium diet, these labels may not give the whole picture. Lowering the salt content of an extremely high-sodium food doesn't make it healthy – it just means that the original too high amount of sodium has been reduced a bit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that you carefully read nutrition labels rather than just the "Low Sodium" message on the front of the package.

And the Same Caution About Sodium Substitutes
Under the right circumstances, salt substitutes can be a healthier option, but not for everyone all the time. Most salt substitutes contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. Potassium consumed in excess may be harmful for some people. This is particularly true if you have kidney problems that affect the ability of your kidneys to rid your body of the excessive potassium.

If you have kidney problems or are on medication for your heart, kidneys or liver, it is best to check with your physician before using salt substitutes in place of sodium. Otherwise a salt substitute containing potassium chloride is an acceptable alternative in moderation, if you do not have kidney problems and have checked with your physician to be sure it will not interact with any of your medications.