How can I flavor food if I'm on a low sodium diet?

A low-sodium/salt diet does not mean giving up flavor. Learn to season your food with herbs and spices. Be creative and experiment for a new and exciting flavors.

Try the following spices:
  • Allspice: Use with beef, fish, beets, cabbage, carrots, peas, and fruit.
  • Basil: Use with beef, pork, and most vegetables.
  • Bay leaf: Use with beef, pork, and most vegetables.
  • Caraway: Use with beef, pork, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, asparagus, and in dips and marinades.
  • Cardamom: Use with fruit and in baked goods.
  • Curry: Use with beef, chicken, pork, fish, green beans, carrots, and in marinades.
  • Dill: Use with beef, chicken, green beans, cabbage, carrots, peas, and in dips.
  • Ginger: Use with beef, chicken, pork, green beans, cauliflower, and eggplant.
  • Marjoram: Use with beef, chicken, pork, green beans, cauliflower, and eggplant.
  • Rosemary: Use with chicken, pork, cauliflower, peas, and in marinades.
  • Sage: Use with chicken, pork, eggplant, and in dressing.
  • Tarragon: Use with fish, chicken, asparagus, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, and in marinades.
  • Thyme: Use with beef, chicken, pork, fish, green beans, beets, and carrots.
If your salt intake is limited, there are other good options that can give interest to your meals: herbs and spices add delicious flavor and aroma to cooked meats, grains, vegetables, fruits, and salads. Many of them also provide health benefits. Consider using some of the following seasonings when making your favorite foods. Experiment with mixing and matching them -- try smelling the herb/spice combination together outside of the bowl before adding into the dish to get a sense if the mixture smells appetizing.

Fruits: cinnamon, mint, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, orange/lemon zest, or cocoa powder

  • Tomato with basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, or garlic
  • Carrots or yams with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or mint
  • Beans with garlic, onions/onion powder, bay leaf, or chili powder
  • Potatoes with rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, onion powder, garlic, cumin, curry powder, or pepper
  • Oatmeal with cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, cocoa powder, or ginger
  • Brown rice (and other grains) with turmeric, cumin, curry powder, cilantro, garlic, onion/onion powder, or saffron
  • Pasta (sauce) with basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic, or onions/onion powder
Eggs: dill, pepper, basil, oregano, celery seed, ground mustard, cumin, garlic, onion powder, paprika, or rosemary

Chicken: thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, bay leaf, celery seed, chili powder, chives, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, lemongrass, dill, garlic, onion powder, ginger, lemon, vinegar, paprika, parsley, sage, pepper, or turmeric

Beef: thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, bay leaf, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, curry powder, garlic, onion powder, ginger, paprika, parsley, or pepper

Fish: dill, lemon, basil, chives, curry powder, garlic, onion powder, lemongrass, paprika, pepper, or turmeric
Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

If you are on a low sodium diet, you can flavor food with fresh or dried herbs and spices. Not only can fresh herbs replace the sodium but also can replace fat. A delicious example is to use fresh rosemary on your grilled corn in place of salt and margarine. You can also use fruit or citrus blends such as lemon on fish, squeezed lime as a salad dressing; segmented oranges on baked chicken; or a fruit salsa on grilled fish. Vinegars also add a boost of flavor to your favorite entree or salads. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.