If you are choosing to follow The Paleo Diet® created by Dr. Loren Cordain, then you probably know adding salt to recipes is not part of his diet. According to Dr. Cordain, there is ample medical evidence which shows too much salt in your diet can lead to a whole host of medical issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis, certain cancers and other diseases (1). Moreover, he notes salt is made up of both sodium and chloride; and chloride is just as bad for you because “…it yields a net acid load to your kidneys after it is digested. Because of its high chloride content, salt is one of the worst offenders in making your diet more acid“(1).
There is considerable debate in the paleo community regarding the use of salt (e,g., 3-5). There are many people following the paleo lifestyle who choose to use sea salt as a healthier alternative to table salt in their recipes; though this is not recommended by Dr. Cordain (2). As far as his diet is concerned, the only salt you need it is what occurs naturally in your food. Besides, paleolithic people didn’t have saltshakers.
When I have an “open meal” (non-paleo food) I will use a little salt in my recipes; however, as a cardiac patient I’ve chosen to limit my salt intake as much as possible. (I even took the pledge to do so at the American Heart Association website http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/).
Does that mean my food is bland? Absolutely not. There are plenty of ways to enhance the flavor of your food. Here are a few suggestions:
Herbs and Spices
Whether fresh or dried, basil, bay leaves, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic powder, ground ginger, and onion powder are just a few options for spicing up your food. I personally enjoy experimenting with herbs and spices to discover new ways of flavoring my meals.
Using raw, sautéed or roasted onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, chives, and garlic are wonderful ways to add aroma and flavor to your dish.
Like onions and garlic, there are a wide variety of peppers, from mild to extremely hot which can be used to spice it up.
Mushrooms have a rich, savory flavor to them, making this an easy salt replacement.
Try adding the juice (and/or zest) of a lemon, lime, orange, or even grapefruit to your marinades. There are many varieties and a wide range of flavors available.
1. Cordain, L. (2011). The Paleo diet: Lose weight and get healthy by eating the foods you were designed to eat (Rev. ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
2. Cordain, L. Sea Salt: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Web. http://thepaleodiet.com/sea-salt-devil-deep-blue-sea/. Accessed 2/27/15.
3. Sisson, M. Salt: What is it Good For? Web. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/salt-what-is-it-good-for/#axzz3TAIsK3rF. Accessed 2/27/15.
4. Kresser, C. Shaking up the Salt Myth: The Human Need for Salt. Web. http://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth-the-human-need-for-salt. Accessed 2/27/15.
5. Salt and a Paleo Diet. Web. http://paleoleap.com/salt-and-a-paleo-diet/. Accessed 2/27/15.
Note: The Paleo Diet® is a registered trademark of Dr. Loren Cordain.