If you’re suffering from swollen legs and high blood pressure, you need to cut back on your salt intake. While it sounds so simple on paper (“just stop eating it!” people say unkindly), it’s tough to do. Eliminating salt also means dropping a lot of pre-made foods and condiments from your diet, which make life easy and dinners yummy. However, less salt is not the end of the world. There are so many delicious, low-sodium meals in store; you just need to know how to re-train your taste buds. To help us answer our reader’s question, “what’s a good salt alternative?” we asked nutrition experts Mira Calton, CN, and Jayson Calton, PhD for their input.
What’s a good swap for salt?
Q: I’m trying to cut back on salt because of my high blood pressure, but food tastes so bland when I do! What’s a good alternative?
A: Kudos for taking steps to lower your blood pressure! The good news?
You may not need to limit your sodium too severely: Research in The Lancet found that cutting as little as teaspoon (about 575 milligrams, or mg) of sodium a day can lower blood pressure. And since most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged foods, reading labels and choosing foods with lower amounts can help you reduce your intake.
And when it comes to table salt, you can retrain your taste buds so you don’t need as much. In one study, when people tasted food before adding salt, they cut their sodium intake by 30 percent (1,158 mg a day) in 16 weeks and reported enjoying food with less salt.
Finally, try swapping salt for dried basil, garlic powder, or a chipotle seasoning blend. In another study, subjects rated food with these herbs just as tasty, even though it had 50 percent less salt.
Put FIRST to work for you.
Nutrition experts Mira Calton, CN, and Jayson Calton, PhD, are leading authorities on nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. They are also the bestselling authors of Rebuild Your Bones: The 12-Week Osteoporosis Protocol. To ask them a question, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.