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Spice Up Your Meals

Less salt, more flavor, better health

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Quick Win

Too much sodium can harm your health, including your brain health. You won’t miss the extra salt when you replace it with delicious, nutrient-rich herbs and spices.

Try this today
  • Keep fresh herbs on hand. Sprinkle fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, thyme and oregano on salads — or add them to stir-fries and soups when you’re almost done cooking.
  • Turn up the heat. Add cayenne or other ground chile peppers if you’re a fan of spicy food. Hot spices can enhance the flavor of salt, so you can use less.
  • Find a salt-substitute blend. Grocery stores carry a variety of herb and spice blends with distinct flavor profiles, such as lemon-pepper, Italian or Cajun seasoning, garam masala and herbs de Provence. Brands vary, so check ingredients to make sure there’s no salt added.
  • Go DIY. Make your own versatile salt substitute by combining 2 tablespoons of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder and 1 ground bay leaf in a bowl; add 1 teaspoon of cayenne if you’re a fan of heat. Mix thoroughly, and store in an airtight container. Use in place of salt as a rub for chicken or fish, or add it to savory soups and sauteed vegetables.

Consuming too much sodium can increase the risk of dementia, according to a study of more than 2,000 people 60 and older, as reported in 2022 in JAMDA. It can up your risk of other health problems, too, including high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis and kidney disease, according to the American Heart Association. By swapping out some of the salt in your diet with spices and herbs, you may lower these risks while gaining benefits from the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and other healthy compounds found in many herbs and spices. Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, saffron and black cumin, for instance, were found to lower blood sugar levels among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a 2024 review of 77 studies in Nutrients. In a clinical trial of 63 adults, average age mid-40s, at high risk of cardiometabolic disease, adding herbs and spices to meals improved blood pressure levels, as reported in 2021 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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