Salt and Low-Sodium Substitutes

by Katie Heddleston

A frozen meal sits on a dinner table.

Lynn Bendickson/Hemera/Getty Images

Salt, also known as sodium, is very prevalent in foods found in grocery stores and our own homes. Healthy salt substitutes can help keep you healthy while still adding flavor to your meal. Herbs and spices along with fresh snack foods will help keep you under the recommended sodium intake per day.

About Salt

Salt, commonly known as table salt, is a refined salt, composed of sodium chloride. Salt is widely used in cooking for flavor, as a food condiment in salt shakers and as a food preservative in many processed foods. Food labels will use the term sodium instead of term salt.

In the body, salt aids in maintenance of fluid balance, but too much salt can lead to health conditions, such as hypertension or stroke.


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This is roughly 1 tsp. of salt per day. Individuals who are African-American, middle-aged or older or who already have hypertension should aim for 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Foods with Sodium

The highest prevalence of foods with sodium are found in processed foods. The sodium content of frozen meals, prepackaged foods, salad dressings, bagged snacks, tomato soup and tomato juice are often some of the highest sodium containing foods.

Sodium naturally exists in some foods, gets added to foods at the table via salt shakers and is added while cooking as well.

Salt Substitutes: Herbs and Spices

Salt is not the only additive that can be a flavor enhancer while cooking. Spices and herbs can create flavor in a meal without adding sodium. Herbs are aromatic plants that make for seasoning options. Try herbs that include bay leaves, basil, mint, dill or rosemary. Spices are dried parts of a vegetative substance, such as roots, seeds or barks. Try cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, tarragon or pepper.

Salt Substitutes: Fresh Snacks

Packaged snack foods, such as potato chips and pretzels, are often high-sodium content foods. Substituting a healthy snack for a high sodium snack is a healthy salt substitute option. Try keeping fresh fruits and vegetables in your kitchen and workplace for easy snack options. If you need dressing for those fresh vegetables, read the food labels and chose a low-sodium option.

Photo Credits

  • Lynn Bendickson/Hemera/Getty Images

About the Author

Katie Heddleston began professionally writing in 2010, specializing in topics including nutrition, healthy recipes, gluten-free living, maternal/child health, fitness and running. A registered dietitian, Heddleston holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in public health nutrition from Case Western Reserve University.