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Sodium and Spices

Publication Number: P3555
View as PDF: P3555.pdf

Many people think sodium and salt are the same thing, but they are different. Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in foods or is added during manufacturing—or both. Table salt is a combination of sodium and chloride.

One of the first steps in controlling high blood pressure is to reduce the extra sodium in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day, but the ideal limit is 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure. Cutting back by just 1,000 mg a day can improve your blood pressure and heart health.

Limit Foods High in Sodium

Regularly eating high-sodium foods will result in more than 2,000 mg per day, even if you don’t add table salt. Use this list of common high-sodium foods and products to see if you are eating too much sodium. If so, ask a registered dietitian or your local Extension agent for information about reading food labels and replacing high-sodium foods.

  • Table salt (1 teaspoon provides about 2,300 mg of sodium)
  • Seasonings that contain salt (like celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt, season-all, “lite salt”)
  • Sauerkraut or other vegetables prepared in brine (pickles)
  • Regular canned soups
  • Breads and rolls with salted toppings
  • Potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, saltines, salty crackers, and salted popcorn
  • Salty or smoked meats (like bacon, bologna, chipped or corned beef, frankfurters, ham, meats koshered by salting, luncheon meats, salt pork, sausage, smoked neck bones, smoked ham hocks, smoked turkey, and canned or pickled meats)
  • Salty or smoked fish (like anchovies, caviar, salted and dried cod, herring, and sardines)
  • Processed cheese, cheese spreads, or cheeses such as Roquefort, Camembert, Gorgonzola, and Parmesan
  • Salted nuts, olives, bacon, and bacon fat
  • Peanut butter
  • Bouillon, ketchup/catsup, chili sauces, meat extracts, meat sauces, meat tenderizers, monosodium glutamate (MSG), prepared mustard, relishes, many sauces
  • Antacids containing sodium (such as Alka-Seltzer)
  • Most fast foods and prepackaged foods
  • Canned or frozen entrees (sometimes have lower fat and increased salt)

Replace Sodium with Spices and Herbs

No-salt seasonings add a unique flavor to your dishes without adding a bunch of salt. Use more herbs and spices, and look for seasonings that end in “powder,” like garlic, chili, and onion powders. Spice up your foods with the substitutions on the back page.



Try With


clove, cinnamon, nutmeg

pot roast, meat loaf, combined casseroles, curries, desserts, vegetable soup


strong licorice taste and flavor

savory dishes like seafood soups and stews, seafood kebobs, pork

bay leaf

heavy; use sparingly

soups, stews, roasts, poultry, fish


mildly peppery with trace of mint and clove

tomato sauces, salad dressings, poultry, fish, Italian/Mediterranean dishes

caraway seed

licorice flavor; lightens flavor of heavy foods

breads, cooked cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, borscht soup, goulash, sausage, spareribs


hot and spicy

most foods depending on preference


warm, part-anise, part-parsley flavor

omelets, green beans


mild, sweet onion taste

salads, omelets, potatoes


sweetly spicy, warm

sweet potatoes, baked dishes, apples, oatmeal

curry powder

blend of spices (from India)

soups, rice casseroles, chicken, sauces


slightly sweet with sharp tang

fish, eggs, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, apples, potatoes, cucumbers, dips/sauces


strong, pungent

meat, fish, poultry, salads, sauces, soups


hot, zesty, and biting yet sweet and warm

chocolate, ice cream, fruit, chicken, ham, carrots, tea, smoothies


mild oregano taste, hint of balsam

stuffing, eggplant, squash


cool, refreshing, sweet

tea, fruit, carrots, peas, dressings, lamb


pungent, peppery, slightly bitter

tomatoes, mushrooms, poultry, lentils


sweet, slightly fruity, mild heat

rubs, marinades, pork chops, chicken, stews, garnish for egg and fish dishes


gentle flavor

chicken, shellfish, pasta, potatoes


bold, piney

meat, fish, poultry, sauces, stews, vegetables


pleasantly bitter, lemony zest

breads, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables


rich, nutty flavor

chicken and other meats, warm salads,
salad dressings

summer savory

light, sweet, peppery tang

beans, lentils, vegetable juices


similar to anise

chicken, fish, vegetables, vinaigrette


pleasant, fresh taste with faint clove aftertaste

poultry, salad dressings, dried beans, soups


earthy, slightly bitter

rice, curry, stews, tea

Publication 3555 (POD-02-24)

Revised by Qula Madkin, Extension Instructor, and Xingqi Wang, Dietetic Intern, Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion.

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Portrait of Ms. Qula Madkin
Extension Instructor

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Portrait of Ms. Qula Madkin
Extension Instructor

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