Spice things up to reduce your salt intake

Cook with herbs and spices to reduce your salt intakePic: Getty

Most of us are well aware that too much salt is bad for us, but new research shows there's no need to go bland on the food front if you want to stay healthy.

In a study conducted at the University of California San Diego, people who learned how to properly use herbs and spices in their cooking were able to significantly reduce their salt intake, which could have major health benefits.

Of the volunteers who signed up for the study, more than 60 per cent were suffering from high blood pressure, while almost a fifth had diabetes and were overweight.

The 55 participants entered into a two-part study. During the first four weeks, each was given a low-sodium diet, where researchers provided all foods and drinks. The volunteers were then split into two groups, with half taking a 20-week behavioural intervention whereby they reduced their sodium intake by using herbs and spices instead, while the remaining group tried to cut down on their own.

With the help of the initial controlled diet phase, all participants managed to cut back from an average of 3,450mg a day to 1,656mg a day. And while sodium intake increased in both groups during the second phase, those who took the spice road consumer an average of 966 mg less a day than those who simply tried to cut back.

Cheryl Anderson, lead author of the study, which was presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014, said: "People in the intervention group learned problem-solving strategies, use of herbs and spices in recipes, how culture influences spice choices, how to monitor diet, overcoming the barriers to making dietary changes, how to choose and order foods when eating out and how to make low-sodium intake permanent."

According to campaigners, the average Brit consumes 8.6g of sodium per day, well above the recommended 6g. And since the Department of Health estimates that just a 1g reduction each day could save more than 4,000 preventable deaths each year, isn't it time you spiced up your life?

Have you found you can cut down on salt by using herbs and spices? Leave your comments below...