Herbs, spices, and other taste enhancers may help you consume less salt, lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease, drops when sodium, a component of salt, is reduced.
Spices, herbs, aromatic roots (including onions, garlic, and ginger), citrus, and kinds of vinegar may all be used to flavour meals without adding salt. Two more flavour-enhancing tips: eat fresh foods and prepare them properly. If you can master these methods, your meal will taste so good you won't need salt.
Salt's impact on blood pressure
Research combining data from hundreds of clinical studies published since the early 1970s found that eating less salt lowers blood pressure.
The studies ranged from four weeks to three years and included over 10,000 individuals. Their daily salt consumption varied from 0.4 to 7.6 grams (diet, supplements, or both). (We Americans eat over 3.4 grams of salt each day.) The studies also assessed 24-hour urine sodium levels to confirm intake.
Sodium excretion was related to 2.4 systolic (first number) and 1 diastolic (second number) decrease in blood pressure, the researchers observed. The research was published in Circulation on April 20, 2021.
Fresh herbs offer aroma and colour as well as unique taste. The delicate flavours of herbs like basil and dill may enhance a wide range of meals. Incorporate one or more of your favourites into a simple vinaigrette for grains, veggies, or legumes (beans and peas). Rustic herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage go nicely with roasted root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Soup and stew herbs work nicely dried.
Spices include antioxidant and antiplatelet substances that may improve cardiovascular health. Spicy cuisine lovers tend to consume less salt and have lower blood pressure. For example, the molecule in chilli peppers, capsaicin, may change how the brain absorbs salty tastes, reducing salt consumption.
If you don't like the mouth-tingling heat of chilis, there are plenty of alternative options. It is made of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and fennel. To make za'atar, you need dried hyssop, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds and sumac. Spices used in the Chinese five-spice mixture include star anise and fennel.
Dr Polak, a professional chef, advises trying single spices in various recipes to better appreciate their individual qualities. Adding crushed coriander seeds to a simple salad of finely shredded beets with olive oil and fresh lemon juice is his current favourite.
Vinegar and citrus fruits
Lemon, lime, and orange juice and zest (peel) may give dishes a fresh, crisp flavour. Lemons and other sour substances are truly delicious, increasing saliva production and therefore food taste perception. Tiny research found that using lemon juice and zest may replace up to 75% of the salt in recipes for vegetables, fish, and meats. Chefs often advise pressing a lemon slice on dishes shortly before serving.
Experiment with various vinegar for a distinct sour twist. Try rice wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or vinegar flavoured with fruits (like raspberries or strawberries) or herbs (such as tarragon or basil). Use them in salad dressings or to finish soups and stews.
Buying and cooking ideas
Farmers markets are best in late summer for locally produced food. Carrots picked only a few days ago taste better than young carrots stored in a plastic bag for months. Fresh, fully matured vegetables and fruits are frequently excellent fresh or cooked simply, he says. Cooking vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower in olive oil caramelizes the natural sugars, adding taste.
Many chefs use white or yellow onions, but don't forget about leeks, shallots, or scallions, which have somewhat distinct flavours. Garlic has a strong taste when fresh, but heating it softens it. Whole garlic bulbs may be roasted to create a paste that can be spread over crackers or bread or used in savoury recipes. Freshly grated ginger root adds a warm, spicy taste to dishes.