Has your senior loved one’s doctor recently said that it’s time to cut out the salt for the sake of health?
Many seniors are encouraged to reduce their salt intake for a variety of health reasons, including blood pressure control, better kidney function, improved congestive heart failure, reduced edema, and other conditions.
Many people struggle with the thought of their salt being “taken away”. They are afraid that their food will no longer taste good. For many seniors, taste sensation is already dulled so removing salt can result in poor intake and weight loss.
Ways To Reduce Salt from the Diet but Keep Flavor
- Remove the salt shaker but in its place add a pepper grinder. You can buy an inexpensive pepper grinder in the grocery store. Freshly ground pepper is more flavorful than pre-ground pepper.
- Use lemon juice squirted on your food – it tickles the tongue in the same way salt would. Add it to many different foods, not just fish, including vegetables, a glass of water, pork, and salads to name a few.
- Use seasoning blends such as Mrs. Dash, lemon pepper (salt free), and others. Remember, it is important to read the labels on these seasoning blends because some contain salt as the first (and largest) ingredient.
- Make your own seasoning blends. We will have a couple of recipes at the end to get you started.
- Buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned and add your own touches, such as onions, garlic, dill and cilantro.
- Avoid salted and cured meats, such as cold cuts, bacon, sausage, and ham. Some of these items can be purchased with lower sodium.
- Avoid foods that are salted, such as pickles, sauerkraut, olives, and any that you can see the salt on top, such as pretzels, chips, nuts and crackers. Many of these can be found in salt free varieties. Be careful with sauces such as hot, tabasco and soy, which are often high in salt.
- Avoid packaged products and canned foods such as soup that are high in salt. Many of the lower salt versions are still too high in salt.
- Read food labels carefully, looking for sodium content and salt or sodium as the largest ingredients. Try to find foods that have 300 mg or less of sodium per serving.
- Don’t use salt in cooking, especially for potatoes and pasta water. Any alternate seasonings can be added as needed once you taste the food.
Try to make changes slowly if your senior currently uses salt freely. It may take a little time to get used to not having salt and adjusting to newer flavors. It is important to try many different seasonings and herbs that can enhance the flavor of your senior’s favorite foods. There are a large variety of fresh and dried spices available that will add zing to your senior’s foods. Once your senior’s taste buds adjust, having foods with salt will become distasteful.
Recipe for Salt Replacement Seasoning Blend #1:
- 1/2 c. onion powder
- 3/4 c. dried parsley flakes
- 3 tbsp. dried oregano leaves
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 3 tbsp. basil leaves
Mix ingredients together and use in place of salt. Add to holed shaker.
Recipe for Salt Replacement Seasoning Blend #2:
- 6 Tablespoons dried parsley
- 4 Tablespoons onion powder
- 4 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 2 Teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 Teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 Teaspoon dried sage
- 1 Teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
Grind all ingredients well in a grinder, food processor or blender. Put the blend into a holed shaker.
Good luck helping your senior loved one break the salt habit. Joining them in reducing salt intake might just make it less likely we’ll get the same instruction from our doctor some day!