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Salt alternatives

18 flavorful alternatives for salt

If you're trying to cut back on your salt intake, you may wonder which spices to use instead. Here are 18 flavorful salt alternatives.

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Last updated on November 2, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on September 29, 2022.

Salt is one of the most common spices.

While using it in moderation isn’t usually a concern, excess salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure and other health issues.

Many people with chronic health conditions must cut down on salt; the American population generally eats too much of it.

Instead, you can try several herbs, spices, and other ingredients to add a burst of flavor to your favorite dish.

Here are 18 flavorful salt substitutes.

1. Garlic

Garlic is a pungent spice that boosts flavor without increasing sodium content.

You can cut back on the salt and double the amount of garlic in tomato sauces and marinades recipes. Garlic tastes delicious in soups and stir-fries, too.

What’s more, this allium vegetable is loaded with health benefits. Studies show that garlic compounds may boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and promote brain health.

2. Lemon juice or zest

Citrus, primarily lemon juice, and zest, makes an excellent alternative to salt in some recipes.

As a source of acid, lemon juice acts similarly to salt by bringing out the flavors of a dish. Meanwhile, lemon zest contributes an even more potent citrus flavor. The juice and zest of limes and oranges also have these effects.

Citrus can be drizzled over cooked vegetables and used in salad dressings and marinades for meat and fish.

3. Ground black pepper

Salt and pepper are a classic culinary duo.

Yet, if you’re looking to cut back on salt, simply reach for the pepper shaker instead. Black pepper is an excellent addition to soups, roasts, kinds of pasta, and other savory dishes.

Plus, black pepper may decrease inflammation linked to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

You can likewise try white pepper, peppercorn mixtures, and pepper alternatives, such as jalapeños, chili peppers, and cayenne peppers.

4. Dill

The fresh taste of dill, with hints of celery and fennel, makes it a flavorful alternative to salt.

Dill is an especially good substitute in dishes with fish, potatoes, and cucumbers. You can sprinkle it on top of salmon, use it as the main seasoning in potato salad, or add it to lemon or lime juice for fish dishes.

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5. Dried onion or onion powder

Like garlic, onion offers a flavor boost to almost any savory recipe.

In particular, dried onion or onion powder is more potent than fresh onion and can be swapped for salt in stir-fries, soups, stews, dips, and salsas. It offers a bit of spice with a hint of sweetness.

6. Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold as flakes and powder.

Known for its cheesy, savory flavor, it works well in popcorn, pasta, and grains. Despite its cheesiness, it doesn’t contain dairy.

Using nutritional yeast in place of salt may also have health benefits. The beta-glucan fiber in nutritional yeast may help lower your cholesterol, potentially lowering your risk of heart disease.

7. Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has a sharp, tart flavor with a hint of sweetness. It also brings out a food’s natural flavors, minimizing the need for salt.

Use balsamic vinegar in salad dressings, soups, stews, and marinades for meat and fish. Reducing it in a saucepan over low heat creates an even more flavorful syrup that you can drizzle over fresh tomatoes or roasted vegetables.

8. Smoked paprika

A deep red color accompanies the smoky, spicy taste of smoked paprika.

Add it to taco meat, stews, chili, and nachos. You can also use it to replace salsa, which is often high in sodium.

Notably, this spice may have several health benefits. For example, test-tube studies suggest that the paprika compound capsaicin, which makes some varieties spicy, may stop cancer cell growth.

Suggested read: 10 herbs that may help lower high blood pressure

9. Truffle oil

Truffle oil is infused with edible fungi for a robust and earthy taste, praised by food lovers worldwide.

It’s so potent that you can use just a tiny amount in place of salt. Drizzle it on pasta, pizza, eggs, popcorn, mashed potatoes, and vegetables.

10. Rosemary

Rosemary is a popular herb often used in dipping oils.

Consider adding fresh or dried rosemary to soups, stews, roasts, and roasted vegetables, dressings, sauces, and bread.

11. Ginger

With its pungent, sweet bite, ginger can replace salt in many dishes.

You can mix freshly chopped ginger root or dried ginger into stir-fries, sauces, marinades, beverages, and soups.

Moreover, this root has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It exhibits anti-inflammatory effects and may help improve muscle soreness, among other health benefits.

12. Coconut aminos

Coconut aminos, a dark brown liquid made from the nectar of coconut palms, tastes like soy sauce but has a hint of sweetness — and much lower sodium content.

These characteristics make it a great alternative to soy sauce in stir-fries, rice dishes, dipping sauces, and marinades.

13. Coriander

Coriander comes from the seeds of the cilantro plant. It has a warm, floral, lemony taste and often adds ground or whole to salsas, soups, and curries.

Coriander also boasts numerous antioxidants, including terpinene, quercetin, and tocopherols. Test-tube and animal studies have found that these compounds may boost brain health and immunity.

14. Red pepper flakes

Swap salt for red pepper flakes for a spicy kick to any meal.

This potent seasoning is made from dried hot peppers. It tastes delicious in soups, chilis, dressings, marinades, pizza, and pasta.

15. Apple cider vinegar

Sweet and tart, apple cider vinegar makes for a versatile salt replacement.

Suggested read: 10 proven health benefits of cardamom

It can be used as a marinade for pork chops, mixed into salad dressings, and drizzled over vegetables.

Plus, apple cider vinegar may offer health benefits. Animal studies suggest vinegar lowers cholesterol and improves risk factors for heart disease.

16. Cinnamon

Cinnamon, one of the most common ingredients in baked goods, can also replace salt.

This warm spice has slightly sweet and peppery undertones. Add it to chilis, soups, tomato sauce, curries, roasts, and marinades for chicken or turkey.

Moreover, you can swap cinnamon for salt when cooking beans or lentils. Add a cinnamon stick to the pot for maximum flavor.

17. Sage

Sage is a green herb with hints of citrus and eucalyptus.

The flavor of both fresh and dried sage is quite strong, making it a good salt substitute. It tastes delicious in savory autumn dishes, such as brown butter sauces, roasted squash, mashed sweet potatoes, and risotto.

18. Tarragon

With its licorice-like, slightly bitter taste, tarragon is a flavorful spice.

Instead of going heavy on salt the next time you make scrambled eggs or chicken salad, add fresh or dried tarragon instead. This herb tastes incredibly delicious in butter or cream sauces you can serve with chicken, fish, and veggies.

Summary

Salt is the most common seasoning added to food, but many people consume too much of it.

Healthcare professionals may advise those with high blood pressure or other health conditions to reduce their salt intake.

Try using one of the flavorful seasonings above as a replacement.

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