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Flavor Up With Herbs and Spices

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Plate with a variety of spices

High blood pressure affects one out of three adults in America and leads to more heart attacks and strokes than any other risk factor. Limiting sodium intake is one way to keep your blood pressure under control.

According to the USDA, choosing healthy food options, meals and snacks can help you prevent high blood pressure and its complications. For those who have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, eating foods low in salt (sodium) and high in potassium can lower your blood pressure.

  • Cooking with herbs and spices not only adds wonderful colors and flavors to any meal, but also replaces the extra fat and salt typically used to enhance taste.
  • One study found people who regularly used herbs and spices while cooking cut their daily sodium intake by an average of 966 milligrams.
  • Studies have also shown that when food is seasoned with herbs and spices it is more appetizing and flavorful. People who have changed to this way of cooking believe low-fat and low-salt dishes are as tasty as the unhealthy versions.

So how does one begin using herbs and spices in cooking? Spices, which can be the seeds, berries, bark or roots of a plant, are often added before or early in cooking. Herbs, which are the leafy green parts of a plant, are generally added toward the end of cooking.

Although herbs and spices are not salt substitutes, they are considered salt alternatives because they provide flavor to foods, thus replacing salt. Using herbs and spices instead of salt can be convenient and can make foods more interesting. Try these common combinations:

  • Cinnamon or nutmeg with soups, squash and carrots
  • Cloves with fruit and beef
  • Curry powder or cumin with corn, tomatoes and fish
  • Dill with potatoes, tomatoes, fish and green beans
  • Marjoram with soups, peas and summer squash
  • Oregano with tomatoes, chicken and green beans
  • Rosemary with lamb, chicken and potatoes
  • Sage with beef and potatoes
  • Thyme with beef, chicken and potatoes

Try crushing or rubbing the herbs before adding them to the dish to extract the most flavor. Make sure to buy herbs and spices in small amounts and use them as needed, rather than storing for long periods of time.

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.