As you probably know, excessive salt consumption can undermine your health. In particular, it can raise your blood pressure, thereby increasing your likelihood of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke. However, if you’re accustomed to enthusiastic use of the salt shaker then you might find it hard to cut down because unsalted food tastes bland to you. The good news is that you can protect your heart and have delicious meals at the same time. Here are eleven fantastic alternatives to salt, along with tips for how to get the best results from using them in your food.
1. Chili powder
Probably the most obvious entry on this list, chili powder is much better than hot sauce if you’re trying to avoid high salt content. Depending on your tolerance for heat, just a sprinkle might be all you need. You can use chili instead of salt in all kinds of dishes, ranging from vegetable-based soups to stews and cheese sauces.
Basil is a brilliant staple herb to have around, as it has a versatile, peppery flavor. It goes especially well with Italian foods like pizza and pasta sauce. Fresh basil is also a nice touch in most salads and adds enough of an interesting extra taste that you’ll feel less of a need for salt. As a bonus, it’s straightforward to grow basil on your kitchen window ledge.
If you don’t like spices that are as hot as chili powder or cayenne pepper, paprika can serve a similar function without burning your mouth. It has a milder flavor, along with a hint of sweetness. One way to use it involves mixing it with yogurt to create a tasty potato wedge dip, while another approach mixes paprika with garlic to create a Spanish rub for meat. Some people also love the taste of paprika added to scrambled egg.
Mint is a versatile herb, and its bright, clean taste can be adapted to suit both sweet and savory meals. Try adding it to salads, or experimenting with a mint-based pasta dish (perhaps including pesto). It also mixes particularly well with garden vegetables like peas and carrots, so you can use it to liven up a side dish to pair with chicken. It’s worth growing your own mint, as it’s not difficult to do so and fresh mint tastes markedly better.
Ideal for almost any meal that would benefit from an onion-like flavor but needs a slightly lighter touch, chives can be snipped and then added to things like mashed potatoes, salads, or chicken dishes. However, don’t forget to wait until the end of the cooking process to add your chives, as they easily lose flavor when exposed to high temperatures.
Fresh rosemary sprigs look a bit like pine needles, and they smell like pine as well. Rosemary is another smart alternative to salt when you’re looking to make vegetables tastier, and it is famously great when used to flavor potatoes. You can also add it as a creative topping on pizzas, or sprinkle it into a tomato-based red sauce. Be careful, though–this is a particularly strong herb, so err on the side of using too little rather than too much.
Predominantly recommended for Asian curries, cardamom is warm and just a little spicy. It comes in both pod and seed form, and you can mix it with yogurt, chili powder, cumin and coriander to make a delicious chicken marinade that requires no extra salt.
While nutmeg’s sweetness makes it generally more suitable for baking than cooking, there are some creative ways to use it as a salt alternative as well. Try adding freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of black pepper to a white sauce, or mix a little into a potato soup to reduce the need for further seasoning.
If you’re one of those people who simply can’t stomach a portion of rice without covering it in salt, experiment with flavoring your rice with turmeric instead. This bright yellow spice is powerful and slightly bitter, so use it sparingly. You can also use
The next time you’re making a stir fry, chop some fresh ginger instead of just reaching for the salt. Ginger has a sharp, almost lemony flavor, and it makes noodle dishes much more interesting. Ground ginger also adds a bit of flair to baked meat dishes, and (like turmeric) can be used on plain rice.
Finally, the earthy taste of thyme makes it an excellent accompaniment to mint, so see the fourth entry on this list to discover a few dishes that are immediately suitable. Thyme also works well on its own, and it can be added in spring form or chopped into tiny pieces. Try putting it in casseroles, stews, or mixed portions of roast vegetables. However, make sure to add thyme early in the cooking process, as it tastes better the longer it cooks.
Also Read: 7 Unhealthy Salad Toppings to Avoid