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How to eat less salt at home
Cooking more at home is a great way to cut down on salt as so much is added to ready-prepared, restaurant and takeaway food. Read our top tips to see how to shop and cook to keep your salt intake down.
You can also print out our healthy shopping guide and use when you go shopping to see which foods are high, low and medium in salt.
Tips for shopping
- Know which foods are high in salt and try to swap these for healthier alternatives (examples are shown in the leaflet): High salt foods include:
o processed meat and fish e.g. ham, bacon, salami, sausages, pate, smoked fish
o convenience foods e.g. pizza, pasties, ready meals, canned/packet soups
o salty snacks e.g. crisps, salted nuts, burgers, chips, salted popcorn
- Always remember to check the labels and choose lower salt options put in labelling fact sheet
- Swap from branded products to retailers’ own brands, as they tend to be lower in salt
- Look for lower salt and ‘no added salt’ versions of your usual foods in the supermarket e.g. canned vegetables, tinned fish in spring water, ketchup and baked beans
Tips for cooking
- Cook from scratch using unprocessed meat, fish and vegetables
- Use fresh, tinned or frozen vegetables with no added salt
- Avoid adding salt during cooking, try adding other flavours instead
- Always taste your food before adding salt at the table
- Cut back on sauces such as soy sauce, ketchup, brown sauce and salad dressings as these can be high in salt
- Choose lower salt-stocks, use half a stock cube, or make your own low-salt stock
- Remember sea salt and rock salt have the same effect on the body as normal table and cooking salt
- Stick with it! Food may taste bland at first but within a few weeks your taste buds will adjust and you’ll taste the same amount of flavour, with less salt!
- Try reducing the amount of salt you add gradually over a couple of weeks, allowing your taste buds time to adjust
- If you can’t get used to less salt, try using low sodium alternatives such as LoSalt
- Click here for some low salt recipes
Ideas for adding flavour in place of salt - herbs, spices and other flavours
- Use a mix of herbs and spices to add to the complexity of flavour of your foods
- Frozen, dried or fresh herbs will add and enhance flavour e.g. basil, oregano, tarragon, parsley, coriander, mint
- Spice things up - black pepper, curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, ginger and coriander are just some of the wonderful spices you can use to add flavour
- Watch out for the ready mixed herbs and spices in the supermarket e.g. Cajun mix, as these can be high in salt
- Steam vegetables lightly to retain the colour and flavour and add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar
- Make your own salad dressingbased on balsamic, cider or rice vinegars
- Use lemongrass, fresh coriander and a small amount of sesame oil to flavour stir fries instead of soy sauce
- Marinade fish or meat prior to cooking (ideas below)
- Add red wine when cooking stews or casseroles to enhance the flavour
- Make your own gravy, or go for red wine sauce instead
- Use an infused olive oil, e.g. garlic, basil, chilli or rosemary, to sauté vegetables or as part of a salad dressing
Some ideas for marinades...
- Great for chicken or pork - honey, ginger, garlic and olive oil
- Great for lamb or fish - ginger, coriander, lime zest and juice
- Great for beef - black pepper, chilli and vegetable oil
- Great for chicken kebabs - Paprika, garlic, lemon juice and vegetable oil
- Great for fish - chopped fresh dill, olive oil and lemon juice
Add a squeeze of citrus...
- Squeeze a dash of lemon or lime juice over your food instead of salt
- Drizzle olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper over salads or boiled new potatoes
- Add a dash of lemon juice and some chopped mint to peas and green beans
- Squeeze lime juice over stir fries, curries and lamb dishes
- Add grapefruit or orange to salads
- When roasting chicken, add lemon juice instead of salt to crisp the skin
- Add grated zest of lemon or lime to curries
- Add orange slices to casseroles
Sweeten with spices and fruit...
- Try using the sweeter flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, or mixed spice, and sultanas, raisins, chopped dried apricots or prunes
- Roast carrots and parsnips with cinnamon or mixed spice and a drizzle of honey
- Add cinnamon to savoury pork dishes, sweet apple crumble or porridge
- Sultanas and cinnamon work well in hot pilaf or cold rice salad
- Chopped dried apricots, mixed spice and toasted almonds work well added to couscous
- Apricots or prunes added to meat casseroles will naturally sweeten and enhance the flavour
Credits: Boston Globe and World Action on Salt