5 ways to hold the salt — and pass the flavor

By Melanie Polk, M.M.Sc., R.D., F.A.D.A. (Click for author bios in About us)

Imagine you’re standing at your stovetop. Is salt within reach? Here’s a quick health tip: Move it to the back of your cupboard or to a high shelf.

Cooking with salt is a habit that many of us need to shake. Most of us get more sodium than we need. And, too much can cause the body to hold on to fluids, which can raise blood pressure. This adds up to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

You can cut back on salt in the kitchen and still enjoy tasty dishes. In fact, they may even be more flavorful! All it takes is a little creativity — and a stash of no- or low-salt seasonings and alternatives.

5 ways to pique your palate
For starters, try scaling back the salt in recipes. And, make sure the ingredients you use are salt-free or low-sodium products. See “At the store: Sleuth out sodium.”

And, take the saltshaker off the table. You won’t even miss it when you punch up flavor with these tricks:

1. Reach for herbs and spices. Use freshly ground black pepper, fresh or dried herbs and spices, alone or in combinations, mixed in, rubbed on or sprinkled over. You might even try growing your own fresh herbs. Basil, chives, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary and mint are good starter plants.

2. Learn to dig bulbs. Garlic and onions can add deep flavor, aroma and nutrients to dishes. To save time, you might chop some ahead — and keep them in a glass container in the fridge. In a pinch? Sprinkle in onion or garlic powder — or pre-minced garlic.

3. Turn up the heat. Give dishes a warm zing with a bit of chopped peppers, crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce. Start with a light hand — and add more to taste.

4. Use a little sour power. A splash of flavored vinegar — balsamic or red wine, for example — can add a tang to sauces, soups, salads and meats.

5. Give food a squeeze. The juice — and zest — of lemons, limes and oranges can brighten meats, salads, salsas, fish and other foods. You can add it before or after cooking.

What about salt substitutes?
Keep in mind that these products may contain potassium. Some people — such as those with kidney disease — may need to restrict their potassium intake. Talk with your doctor before using a salt substitute.

Discover more information and resources at myuhc.com®. Click “Health & Wellness.” Type “sodium” into the search box.

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