Marinades are used to help infuse flavor into foods prior to cooking. Often, high-sodium ingredients are included to impart a variety of flavors. Prepared brand-name marinades are available that contain little to no sodium. Low-sodium marinades can be made using commonly-found ingredients in your own home.
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To help add sweetness to marinades without sodium, opt for ingredients such as honey, sugar, orange juice and ginger. All contain less than 14 mg per cup. The sweetness can be varied depending on your individual taste preferences and dietary requirements.
Not only can ginger be used to add sweetness to marinades, it also provides a subtle heat that is not noticed immediately. Ginger contains no sodium and can help to provide a spicy flavor that is not overpowering. Other spice alternatives include wasabi and horseradish. Both require only a small amount to impart significant amounts of spicy heat to marinades. Per tablespoon, they each contain less than 50 mg sodium. Spices such as chili powder, cayenne and black pepper can also be added to citrus juices or oils to help add heat without adding sodium or calories.
Vinegar can be used to provide a tangy flavor in marinades. Many varieties exist including balsamic, cider, red wine and distilled. Each should be used in moderation to help avoid overpowering the natural flavor of the food being marinated. Both balsamic and red wine vinegar provide a subtle sweetness as well. The distilled, cider and red wine varieties all contain less than 20 mg sodium per cup, while balsamic contains slightly more at approximately 59 mg sodium per cup.
When making low-sodium marinades, it is important to avoid adding salt and salt-based products. One tsp. of salt contains 2,300 mg sodium. This alone meets the recommended daily salt intake limit of 2,300 mg. Other high-sodium ingredients to avoid include soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce and tomato-based sauces including salsas. Soy sauce contains approximately 1,000 mg per tablespoon.
While low-sodium soy sauce is available, it too should be avoided due to it's high sodium content. It contains approximately 530 mg sodium per tablespoon. Salt substitutes are available, but you should avoid their use without doctor's approval. These contain high amounts of potassium, which should be avoided by those with heart or kidney problems.