Years ago, I really couldn’t taste any natural flavor in foods since my taste buds were flattened out by all of the fast food, smoking, and buckets of added salt I consumed everyday.
I drastically reduced my added salt intake, and it did take awhile for my taste buds to hop aboard that same bullet train. Eventually they caught up and OMG do whole, fresh foods taste great!
On rare occasion, we have tried some of the old salty treats we used to favorite and they are almost unbearable now. All we can taste is salt… truckloads of salt all over our tongue… no thank you. Like any unhealthy habit that we are accustomed to, abstinence is important for success. Chuck the salt, and replace with salt-free seasoning blends and other spices and herbs you love. Before you know it, you’ll forget added salt exists.
Are salt and sodium the same thing?
Many use these two words interchangeably when indeed they are not the same. Sodium is the 6th most abundant element on earth and found naturally in the earth and environment.
Most table salt is a manufactured form of sodium chloride and mimics the flavor of naturally occurring sodium. The taste comes from many chemicals such as dangerous fluoride, synthetic iodine, sugar, and bleaching agents just to name a few. In addition to the additives, the intense heating process makes it nutritionally void.
Sodium is a very important mineral that is essential to the body’s proper function and is found naturally in whole, plant foods. But, so many processed foods, restaurant foods, even food people cook at home add dangerously high amounts of added salt.
Americans typically consume 3500 mg of sodium per day… this is much higher than the recommended amount. We can get all the sodium we need [between 500mg and 1000mg per day] from a wide variety of whole plant foods, such as artichokes, beets, carrots, turnips, celery, swiss chard, collard greens, and spinach.
A diet high in salted foods over a period of years can lead to a bevy of different health related problems. Importantly, salt is known to increase blood pressure which may then lead to heart failure, heart attacks and strokes. Salt is also linked to many other medical conditions such as stomach cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, ulcers, gastric cancer, and osteoporosis.
By beating our mouths with salt over a length of many years, our taste buds have become weakened to the taste of salt which causes us to add more and more. By limiting or depleting our salt intake, our taste buds can improve greatly and you can start to really taste all of the great flavors that whole foods have to offer.
“If I am supposed to avoid added salt… what about iodine?”
Iodine is required by the body to make thyroid hormones. However, because of soil depletion, most plant foods have low levels of iodine. Unfortunately, the main source of iodine in the Standard American Diet is iodized table salt. Since it is recommended to avoid salt for good health, it is important to supplement with iodine to maintain adequacy. Sea vegetables have a decent amount of iodine. Kelp, a sea vegetable, is our chosen source for iodine. Kelp powder or caps can be found at health food stores/departments and on Amazon.
If you are currently transitioning towards salt-free or little added salt, there are many ways to increase the amount of flavor in your foods including crushed red pepper, no-salt seasonings, lemon, vinegar, lime, herbs, and spices. If you absolutely need some salty taste, we recommend you use other sources for that “salty” taste [such as liquid aminos] rather than sprinkling a table salt on your foods or adding multiple teaspoons of table salt into dishes. Throw that salt shaker in the trash… you don’t need it!
- Air popped or dry stove popped popcorn: Try lightly sprinkling or spraying some liquid aminos on your popcorn and then topping with nutritional yeast or Nutritarian “parmesan cheese”.
- Stir fry: Cut veggies and mushrooms in 2 inch skinny strips and pan fry them with coconut aminos and water. Add some beans if you haven’t had any today… why not!?
- Soup: Adding celery or celery seeds to soups can give your dish a lightly salted taste. It really adds a lot of flavor to the veggie broth that we make in our electronic pressure cooker [Instant-pot].
- Chili: Spice things up! By adding crushed red pepper, chili powder, chipotle pepper and other spices to your meal, you won’t be thinking about the absence of salt. I recommend adding only a little bit in at a time… I’ve made big batches of food unbearably spicy by mistake.
- Lemon and white or rice vinegar can also enhance dishes flavor.
- Don’t forget salt-free seasoning blends! Mrs. Dash, Trader Joe’s Salute seasoning, Benson’s, etc. are all great choices.
Please feel free to comment below with any questions you have about added salt, sodium, or iodine.