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Salt Free Seasoning For Kidney Health

You’ve just found out that you have kidney disease or high blood pressure and your provider tells you that you need to “cut back on the salt” or “watch the sodium” or whatever they’ve said. The point is, that they want you to eat less sodium. 

There’s tons of research that recommends a low sodium diet to protect the kidneys and the cardiovascular system. But, were you actually educated on decreasing your sodium intake?

Because, in my book, “cut back on the salt” is not nearly enough education when you’re asking someone to change their entire diet. 

So, instead of just getting frustrated that you’re not getting the nutrition education that you deserve, I’m going to break it down here to help you get onto the right track.

Why is a Low Sodium Diet Important?

Most of us get anywhere from 3000 - 4000 mg of sodium a day.

A salt farm worker carries baskets of salt over his shoulder in from the water.
From the Mediterranean to the Himalayas, all salt has about the same amount of sodium.

But, current recommendations for kidney patients are to limit sodium to 2000 mg daily and for heart patients those recommendations range from 1500 - 2300 mg daily.

It’s easy to brush that recommendation off. Every doctor, advocacy group, and talk show host for the last 40 years has recommended a low sodium diet. It can get to be...a little much.

But, a low sodium diet can preserve kidney function for years! Postponing the need for dialysis and decreasing your risk of developing other conditions like heart failure and stroke. So, even though a recommending a low sodium diet may sound annoying and repetitive, it's a very important part of keeping your kidneys healthy.

Cutting back on your salt intake may feel like a big change, but it doesn’t have to. Studies show that when we reduce salt in the diet, our sense of taste becomes more sensitive to it. The longer you stick to your low sodium diet, the lower your threshold for tasting salt is. So, don’t worry if things taste a little bland at first, give it some time and your food will start to taste normal again!

Salt Free Seasonings

There are a ton of options for salt free seasonings when you’re on a renal diet. But, these are my favorites:

  • Lemon or Lime Juice - A splash of citrus juice can tenderize meat and add brightness and zing to your dish! I like lemon juice on chickpeas or lime juice on chicken!

  • Apple Cider Vinegar - Like citrus juice, vinegar tenderizes meat, but it can also add a tangy flavor. I love it on pork as a base for salad dressings, and !

  • Herbs and Spices - Herbs and spices can be a great way to season a dish without relying on salt! I like to mix chopped parsley in with salads, dill and lemon make a great drizzle for salmon, and cumin and lime are the perfect rub for chicken tacos!

  • Herb Seasonings - I love Mrs. Dash. All of her flavors are kidney-friendly, but my personal favorite is the Southwest Chipotle on grilled veggies. There are also other options like lemon pepper and Italian seasoning.

Low Sodium Seasonings

There are also several low sodium seasoning options that aren’t entirely sodium free but are still kidney friendly and loaded with flavor!

  • Hot Sauce – Most of hot sauces are great options, though you'll want to compare sodium content between brands as it can vary. Louisiana Hot Sauce and Tabasco are both great but my favorite is Crystal — I love it on eggs, potatoes, and corn.

  • Mustard - It's low in sodium and calories. You can use it as a base for sauces or mix it into beans for a little zip. Yellow, spicy, and dijon are all great options, though my favorite is Grey Poupon Country Dijon because it’s great on a sandwich, stirred into meatloaf, and mixed into my favorite salad dressing.

Salt Substitutes

I know that you’ve seen the Nu-Salt and the other “salt substitutes” in the spice aisle. I never, ever recommend these to people living with kidney disease (unless they have a low potassium, which is very uncommon). These substitutes take out the sodium and instead add potassium. While you’ve cut back on your sodium intake, you’ve added a lot of potassium that your kidneys may not be able to process depending on how well they’re functioning. So, it's best to just avoid these unless your provider tells you to look into them.

Sodium From Processed Foods

If your provider has told you to cut back the sodium, you can find a million different seasonings to cook with instead and you’ll probably see some improvement. But, the single biggest thing that you can do for your heart and kidneys is to cut back — or cut out — processed foods. 70% of sodium in the average American’s diet is added to our food before we ever buy it!

Some of the biggest culprits for high sodium processed foods are:

  • Premade Meals - Yes, I’m talking about your Hungry Boy dinners. They're incredibly hard on your heart and kidneys.

  • Processed Meats and Deli Meats - There is a truckload of sodium added to keep them safe to eat for as long as possible. Cutting out deli meat can make a HUGE difference if it’s something that you eat regularly.

  • Fast Food - Pizza is usually the worst offender, but a double cheeseburger from your favorite drive-thru can run over 1100 mg of sodium! That's half of your recommended allowance for the day without even adding the fries!


Giving up the salt shaker does NOT mean that you have to give up flavor. There are so many options to give your food pizzazz while helping to preserve your kidney function and protect your heart. Let me know below what works best for you!

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Brandy Winfree, RDN smiling at the camera.

I'm Brandy Winfree, RDN.

When I was working in dialysis, I saw so many patients who had no idea that diet plays a HUGE role in kidney health.

I decided then that I needed to pass my knowledge onto people with kidney disease BEFORE they went into kidney failure. Not after.

That's why I became a board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition and why I started this blog. 

You deserve to take care of the kidneys that you have now and I want to share my knowledge with you to make that happen.

Are they any topics that you'd like to hear my thoughts on?

Shoot me a message here.

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