15 Tips to Eliminate Salt

Wednesday May 10 | BY |
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musat

Last month, I addressed the topic of salt a few times, sharing my experience of finally eliminating salt completely from my diet.

Today, I want to share with you some tips on how to achieve a “salt-free diet.”

But first, let’s clarify a few points about salt.

1) Salt is not an essential nutrient. Contrary to common belief, salt is not a necessary nutrient. Two components of salt are essential to health: sodium and chloride. Both are found in natural foods in the amounts that we need.

2) We don’t need more sodium than what’s in natural foods. Sodium requirements are so low compared to the average intake that even the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) could not even establish a minimum requirement. US guidelines for RDAs (Required Daily Amounts) states that “the minimum average requirement for adults … [is]… 115 mg of Sodium…per day. In consideration of the wide variation of patterns of physical activity and climate exposure, a safe minimum intake might be set at 500 mg/day.”

3) Sea salt is NOT any better. It is still mostly composed of sodium chloride and using it in any amount will cause an electrolyte imbalance in most people, damaging your health over time. The trace minerals found in tiny amounts in sea salt are better obtained from natural foods.

4) All the tribes who lived on a salt-free diet were found to be in much better health with no hypertension with aging. Some of them ate a diet high in meat, smoked or drank alcohol. On the other hand, tribes who also lived a similar lifestyle but used salt had a high incidence of hypertension.

5) Human beings evolved on a low-sodium diet. Therefore our kidneys are adapted to conserve sodium. Salt is NOT paleo! Most humans never had any access to salt up to relatively recently in history.

6) Exceptions to the rule don’t change the rule. The fact that some people might need to add salt to their diet due to rare health problems or the use of salt under exceptional athletic circumstances does not invalidate the general point that our health would be better if the vast majority of people consumed less much salt.

7) 99.4% of the population consumes more than the 1500 mg. limit of sodium set by the American Heart Association. So the argument that “many people run into health problems by not consuming enough salt” does not hold water.

8) Optimal blood pressure is under 115/75. Any improvement you can make in your blood pressure numbers will vastly improve your health outcomes!

9) Even if you consume salt and have an optimal blood pressure of under 115/75, it does not mean that you should keep consuming salt. 95-99% of people develop essential hypertension if they eat salt, as long as they live long enough. Some people develop it at 35, while others at 85.

10) Salt consumption destroys your health in other ways. It causes kidney damage, increases your odds of stomach cancer and kidney stones as well as auto-immune disease. It may cause acne and aggravate insomnia. It creates oxidative stress.

Dr. James Kenney, Ph.D., writes in “Diet, Hypertension and Salt Toxicity”:

There is growing evidence that HTN is merely a symptom of an underlying nutritional imbalance caused largely by an excessive intake of salt. Salt intake was found to correlate more closely with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), cerebrovascular disease, microproteinuria (an early sign of kidney disease), and reduced arterial compliance than BP. A recent review found that “there is clinical and experimental evidence… that salt intake directly affects hypertensive renal disease, cerebrovascular disease, and compliance of the large arteries. The close and partially independent correlation between salt intake and hypertensive target organ disease suggests dietary sodium to be a direct perpetrator of cardiovascular disease.”85 Simply put HTN is just one of many symptoms that can result from the damaging effects of chronic salt toxicity.

Are you ready to take the no-salt pledge? Here’s how to do it:

1- Stop eating foods that don’t taste good without salt

One of the best things about eliminating salt from your diet is that it will steer you in the right direction of eating. Fruits taste great without salt. It’s also not difficult to make a tasty salad without the stuff. Tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.), as well as vegetables in general, are great without it. Unprocessed grains and beans can be pretty good given the right mixture. Nuts, seeds, and avocado: excellent.

As for pasta and bread: unpalatable even with the right combo of spices. But it’s so processed anyway so why it eat?

Processed foods: they all have to go because they are loaded with salt. The same applies to restaurant foods. At the same time, you’ll eliminate 75% of the foods that make people sick.

2- Read ALL the labels

It’s surprising where you can find salt and high sodium content. My mom was fooled by “Bragg’s Liquid Aminos” because there’s “no salt added.” It packs in as much sodium as soy sauce! Salt is often sometimes added to nut butter and other healthy foods even by organic companies. It’s also almost impossible to find a protein powder without added salt. Those in the market for a good protein powder should take a look at this one. It’s one of the rare brands without added salt.

3- Be patient

Depending on a few factors, it takes a few weeks to neuro-adapt to a low-sodium diet. When this happens, you’ll sometimes pinch yourself thinking that you’ve added salt to your food, because you finally start tasting the natural sodium in it!

4- Use lime or lemon juice on everything

The receptors for “salty” and “sour” on the tongue are very close to each other. One trick to make the food taste “salty” is to add some fresh lime or lemon juice to almost everything you eat!

5- Learn to use whole spices

So you’re going to leave salt behind. How do you pack more flavor into your dishes? The solution is to use high-quality, whole spice mixes! You need to grind spices before each use for maximum flavor. Do not buy those pre-made, ground spice mix. They only taste good with salt!

I have discovered spices from a Canadian company that is unparalleled. Plus, the prices are good. They have a ton of recipes on their website. Their website is: http://spicetrekkers.com

However, here’s the trick: I order from their French website, which is priced in Canadian dollars instead of USD! There’s currently a difference of 35% in the exchange rate. So if you can figure it out by going to the English website first, here it is.

6- Use fresh herbs

Always have one or two bunches of fresh herbs on hand. I particularly like Italian parsley (leaves are flat), cilantro and basil.

7- Know about Benson’s Table Tasty

Potassium chloride is bitter and unappealing. But you can get a salt-replacement to get over the hump of neuro-adaptation. It’s this one.

It’s the “saltiest” salt-free replacement I have found. Some might object to the yeast extract. However it’s a good company, I haven’t seen any negative use from occasional use, and it’s a great tool in the box to have to get over the salt habit.

8- Add mangoes!

When you remove salt, you sometimes have to add a bit of sweetness. Otherwise, some dishes, such as salads, can taste too bland. Diced mangoes will be your friend! You can almost add them to everything, but I particularly like them in salads.

9- Make avocados your friend

Avocados pack a lot of flavor and nutrition. You can add diced or mashed avocado to many dishes to instantly transform them from “okay” to “wow!”

10- Enjoy balsamic vinegar

Go and get some gourmet balsamic vinegar. A few drops do change everything! I don’t particularly like the fruit vinegars that are recommended by some health experts. Balsamic is the time-tested classic.

11- Use nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast can also add a lot of flavor to some dishes. This one is a great value and may contain active B12.

12- Get your favorite condiments, salt-free

It’s amazing what you can find on Amazon. I could not find mustard or hot sauce without salt anywhere until I looked on Amazon. Here are a few good finds:

13- Do many of the above, at the same time

Food will taste great if you combine my tips all at the same time. Make a salad and add mangoes, diced avocado, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs, nutritional yeast and a bit of spice and I guarantee that you won’t miss the salt! The same goes for other dishes. Cook a lentil stews, add in freshly ground spices such as the Berberé Mix from “Épices de Cru,” lime juice and chopped cilantro and you’ll call me to say it was the best meal you’ve had in a while!

14- Go all the way

“Reducing salt” does not work. Health agencies have been encouraging the public to “reduce salt” for decades, and it has not worked. When you eat salt, you crave salt. It’s as simple as that. When you get rid of it entirely, your taste buds adapt, and you reap the rewards.

Any drop in blood pressure results in improved health until you’re down to at 115/75 and perhaps even 110/70. This is well documented scientifically.

Author Andrew Perlot, who has an excellent YouTube channel, did an experiment where he added only one-quarter of a teaspoon of salt to his diet for a year. He documented the results in this video.

What’s interesting about Andrew’s experiment is that he was still below the lowest recommended intake of 1500 mg. of sodium a day. Like I’ve said before, only 0.6% of the population eats that little sodium.

Just by adding about 500 mg. of extra sodium a day, he significantly raised his blood pressure.

15- Be Patient (Again)

One problem with a lot of the research done on sodium restriction is that they focus only on the short-term effect of going from a high-salt intake to a moderate salt intake.

According to Dr. James Kenney, Ph. D., author of a fascinating paper or salt toxicity:

Unfortunately, the long-term effects of a low-salt diet have received little attention. After an initial drop in BP, which can be fairly large in some individuals, the decline in BP often continues for many months or years, provided the salt restriction is maintained. For example, one group of researchers found that BP was still trending downwards after two years on a diet with about 70 mEq (1600 mg of sodium).84 Given that the BP raising effects of excessive dietary salt take many years to develop it is surprising that most clinicians expect to see the full impact of a low-salt diet within just a few weeks. In my clinical experience, it may take as long as 5 to 7 years to see the full BP lowering impact of a low-salt diet.

Conclusion

I hope I have convinced some of you to try ditching the salt habit. There’s more to cover about this topic, but I think I have given you a few good ideas to get rid of the salt in your diet starting today.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

16 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Tim Miller says:

    Great article, Frederic. I have been doing everything you say for a few years now – ever since I got back from True North – and I can verify that one’s taste buds adapt. I love my food now with no added salt. And my BP is low, low low, thanks to no salt intake. I have found Balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast to be particularly helpful, along with generous use of herbs, spices, and no-salt hot sauce and salsa.

    Just a note about one of your links: the one for tomato sauce on Amazon actually links to the page for Table Tasty (which I like, by the way – thanks to you and Dr. Klapper for recommending it). This is true both above and in the email you sent out. But on the email, the nutritional yeast link also goes to Table Tasty.

  2. ST says:

    Thanks Frederic for the great article.
    I have to cut off salt due to high blood pressure so thanks for the article.
    I also cannot have citric acid and table tasty spice s have citric acid in them.
    If you come across similar spice blend and nutritional yeast without citric acid in them then please let me know.
    I will check other links from the article also.
    Thanks

  3. I’m a longtime fan of your info. I have an unusual crippling condition that seems affected by salt. I have a number of questions. Andrew Perlott recently described his experiments with lessening lectins in foods by sometimes using baking soda. Would baking soda have the same bad effects as sodium chloride. What about seaweeds? Can we get too much natural sodium or chloride from natural sources? What about swimming in the ocean? Do we absorb that salt? Thank you. Doug

    • Thanks for your comments and questions Douglas! Yes, baking soda is loaded with sodium. I believe however that there’s a sodium-free version. Some seaweed contain a lot of salt, others don’t. Yes, you can get too much sodium from natural foods but that would be unusual. Only seaweed products might contain too much naturally. And as for swimming in the ocean, good question! I think it would be a matter of how much sea water you end up swallowing.

  4. Pamela says:

    Excellent article, Frederic and much needed! I totally agree with you on tubers not needing salt! I love fresh lemon juice on my sweet potatoes and yams. With baked potatoes, I cool them slightly, then slice them up and pretend they are ‘chips’ and eat them with my salads. Delicious! Try this: 1 Baked Potato ‘Chip” with a slice of cucumber on it! YUM!

    Question: I thought all vinegar was bad for you. But Balsamic is OK? Could you please explain? Thx!

    Blessings to you, Frederic!

  5. The Costco brand of balsamic vinegar lists nitrites on the ingredients. Isn’t this sodium nitrite? The label does, however, say that there is not a significant source of sodium. What do you think?

  6. Carol says:

    Interesting info Frederick. Are you lumping together Himalayan and Celtic salt in same category as sea salt for low mineral percentage ? I have always been recommended these for electrolyte balance esp when working up a sweat or hot weather.

  7. Manpreet says:

    Wonderful article on low salt diet.we, in India are becoming awair too…with too much salt in every dish,two to three in three meals a day ,along with spicy snacks in between and not to forget the pickles and chutneys…it’s sure is a recipe for disaster. I think my consistent nagging on the table has a solid backing tonight with you detailed and helpful topic. Thankyou ,I enjoy all your articles and follow mostly. Regards, manpreet

  8. Fanny says:

    Use lime or lemon juice on everything – is that a good idea to combine with potatoes and other starches? I ‘ve learned that acid + starches results in food digestion problems?

    • When I say “on everything” I’m exaggerating. Use lime/lemon juice when it enhances the taste! As for the combination of starch/acid, if it’s a problem then avoid it. But otherwise, there’s no reason to make the diet more restrictive.

  9. Nill says:

    Salt puts up our blood pressure. Raised blood pressure (hypertension) is the major factor which causes strokes, heart failure and heart attacks, the leading causes of death and disability in the UK. There is also increasing evidence of a link between high salt intake and stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, kidney stones, kidney disease and vascular dementia and water retention

  10. I am so grateful for this wonderful article. I needed this, I salt and salt again. I have really cut down since your last email and expected it to be really hard. So far, it is not. I was eating something the other day and I said to myself, Wow, I can really taste this! I believe I was caught in an addiction cycle and didn’t know it. Your email came with a chance blood pressure reading of 139 over 79. I have always been around 113-119 over 60 so it was perfect timing for me to pay attention. Thanks so much. Nameste!

  11. Heather says:

    Great and very helpful article!! Thank you!!!

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