CHOICE membership

Low sodium food alternatives (January 2020 Food Challenge)

With processed foods, one common ingredient which is added to enhance flavour and also to prolong food life is sodium (or salt). Some of us also enjoy a shake or grind or two over our foods before it is eaten.

It is well known and scientifically proven that high salt or sodium consumption can increase the risk of a number of aliments, The Heart Foundation has indicated that ’ High salt intake impacts the body and your health in many ways and is linked to conditions other than high blood pressure such as :

  • heart failure/heart attack
  • kidney problems and kidney stones
  • oedema (fluid retention)
  • stroke
  • left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of heart muscle)
  • osteoporosis.

High sodium in foods is becoming more of a concern to many food consumers and there are many options to minimise the sodium intake.

For the January 2020 food challenge, let us know what you do to minimise sodium intake through the foods eaten. Ideas could be using alternatives to salt, alternative foods or where foods are sourced.

Post your suggestions below…


Is my favourite bogan chef, Adrian Richardson, allowed to enter?

I never use salt when cooking foods such as bolognese sauce, mashed potato, greens, osso bucco, stews, casseroles, lasagna, curries and such like.

I do salt and pepper steaks and roasts after brushing them with olive oil prior to cooking.

We lightly salt and pepper our meat or fish and veggies before eating.


Lately I’ve been concerned about using
stock cubes in my cooking as I find those are a quick and ready way of adding flavour to dishes but are very high in sodium.

Browsing the net I’ve come across recipes for making our own stock cubes
which will be free of preservatives, glutamate, fats, flavouring…

Will be posting the recipe in the Comfort Foods thread, it looks like it’s easy to do and healthy.


There are also reduced salt liquid stocks such as Campbells which is what we use.


We are conscious of our salt/sodium intake (even though we have not been told to reduce our sodium intake) and always check the level of salt (as well as other things on the nutritional panel) when making purchase decisions. With the types of food we often eat (Asian dishes possibly 2-3 times per week), it is difficult to get ingredients to a meal that are low in sodium.

Most Asian sauces (soy sauce, vinegar, cooking wines, bean pastes, curry pastes etc) are high in salt and sometimes it is not possible to get a low salt option (all options may still have very/extreme high sodium levels)… So what we do is restrict the amount of sauce added to the food being prepared for the meal and also beef up the spices added to compensate for any loss in flavour enhancement. This might mean adding a few extra cloves of garlic, an extra cinnamon stick, a few more star anise, extra ginger etc). We also carefully measure any added sauces using a measuring teaspoon/tablespoon so that we control the amount of sodium added (we used to be more casual about adding sauce and would add a glug or two. We have noticed that Asian dishes taste okay when limited sauce is used and we beef up the spices. Unfortunately the Asian dishes are not the same if the sauces are not added, as they contribute to the depth of flavour and flavour profile on the tongue.

In our case, it is not possible to have an Asian meal without some salt contribution from the ready made sauces…but we try the moderation approach instead.

We also make our own foods such as dumplings so that we can control the amount of salt added (bought ones usually have salt and potentially sodium flavour enhancers added…while home made ones the vegetables (mushrooms/cabbage) herbs (Chinese chives) or spices (ginger/garlic) are used in combination to avoid the addition of salt.

We do enjoy our food, which we have a very diverse and international broad palette and now tend to notice many foods either pre-prepared or bought at restaurants have a salty taste.

We also don’t add salt to water used for boiling rice, pasta or vegetables and never season meat with salt when cooking (we do however season heavily with pepper or other spices).

We do also have the odd higher salt/sodium meal (at restaurants or at friends places), but these are infrequent and not the norm. We also don’t eat at the major fast food outlets which have many products containing elevates salts (fats and sugars).


On the other side of the ledger, we have found that we need to add salt to the water to cook corned beef.

Corned beef used to be so salty that it needed soaking prior to cooking so as to reduce the salt, but nowadays, if salt is not added to the cooking water, it is very bland.


Where do you get such low salt corned beef?


If you need/want to reduce salt intake in your own cooking, but like the taste of it, then Potassium chloride and Sodium chloride mix is sometimes marketed as ‘lite salt’.

You could use Calcium chloride too, it is extremely salty to taste, so you don’t need much!


On certain Blood Pressure medications and some fluid retention medication taking potassium chloride in products like Lite Salt is fraught with danger and anyone seeking to use this type of salt who take these types of medication should seek advice from a Chemist or Doctor before doing so.


I’ve been adding plain boiling water to my risotto: by making a rich tomato sauce it can still be very tasty and I can control the salt.
As I have become a bit lazy with my cooking, I’ve been using an imported brand of stock cubes, 54.3 g of salt per 100 g.
I blame those for causing a strong pain in my liver a while ago. A scan found nothing wrong with my liver, and that made me suspect that the additives and preservatives and sodium in the stock cubes might be the cause of my bad reaction.


Just a suggestion for those wishing to reduce the sodium intake–it is hard to know how much sodium is in restaurant food, takeaway food and processed/packaged foods, but we can control ADDED salt in home cooking. 1. Keep away salt shaker from the dining table, replace by other spices pepper, lemon etc. 2. When you open packet of salt, write the date and when you finished using, then you know how long it took to finish the pack of say 1Kg and divide by number of days to get average daily added salt use. 3. Finally, use smaller size spoon in the salt container say from a table soon to tea spoon to spice spoon, your tastebuds will adjust within no time. Hope these practical tips helps those trying to reduce the salt intake and result in better health.


For a start, have never added salt at the table. But during my first pregnancy 35 years ago, oedema was diagnosed. Reducing my salt intake meant reducing consumption of cheese, ham, bacon, and packaged food like baked beans and soups, also adding less salt to cooking. I rarely ate takeaway food anyway, so no more pizza etc was no big deal.
Now no more pregnancies, but too much salt - e.g. 2 serves of salty soup - can make me sick, but these days that could be due to msg. However, oedema is still a problem - especially as i now live in a hot climate, so must eat some salt.
I did find that many foods taste better with far less salt.


Nice to see you again @CainAU

Yes, that’s very true, we can control added salt in our cooking, but it’s more difficult to be aware of salt in the foods we buy, for example:
my Weetbix has got 89 mg of sodium per serving size.
My All Bran 162 mg per serving size.
Long life milk has113mg per cup.
I’m starting the day with 364 mg of sodium in what is a very simple breakfast!

I am going to try to be more aware of my salt intake by paying closer attention to the quantity of sodium listed on packaging.


Make sure you are sitting down when reading the Sodium* listing on Vegemite and soy sauce! :wink:

  • Salt is 2.5X the quantity of Sodium listed

Also, salt can increase the incidence of Vertigo. The Level of salt in the inner ear fluid will greatly increase your susceptibility to giddiness. or vertigo.

And tomato sauces are one of the worst. The least salted one and one of the nicest, “Pop’s” from Griffith NSW is in such short supply it’s very hard to find

I don’t know how you lavage (irrigate) your inner ear with salt water as it is not generally accessible to the outside world. You can lavage the outer ear with water and it will make you giddy. This works with fresh water so I doubt it has anything to do with the salt. I can’t find a reference to it right now but I think it is to caused by cold water on the eardrum upsetting the nerve going to the vestibular system. This is used to deliberately induce giddiness for some testing. The effect wears off a few minutes after irrigation stops.

Auto correct!! _ I meant “level” of salt. And it is well documented that the level of salt in the inner ear fluid has this effect. No, you can’t change it, other than by changing your salt intake. It’s a long term task.