Have high blood pressure? Here’s a new way to fight it: Add more herbs and spices to your food. This recommendation stems from a new study presented at the American Heart Association 2014 meeting, which showed that adults who switched out salt for herbs and spices consumed much less sodium and as a result were able to lower their blood pressure.
“Salt is abundant in the food supply and the average sodium level for Americans is very high – much higher than what is recommended for health living,” says Cheryl A.M. Anderson, lead study author and associate professor at the University of California San Diego.
Details of The Study
Blood pressure continues to be a problem for adults and children alike – something that can contribute to serious heart problems over the long-run.
Which is why reducing salt intake is particularly important for individuals with high blood pressure; a high-sodium diet is linked with this condition, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
In her study, Anderson sought to teach these people how to lower their sodium levels naturally without sacrificing flavor – a change just as easy as switching out salt for herbs and spices instead.
“We need a public health approach aimed at making it possible for consumers to adhere to an eating pattern with less salt,” says Anderson. “This intervention using education and tasty alternatives to sodium could be one solution.”
To do so, here’s what she did:
- In the first phase of the study, 55 volunteers ate a low-sodium diet for 4 weeks. Researchers provided all foods and calorie-containing drinks. Salt is the main source of sodium in food.
- In the second phase, half of the study volunteers participated in a 20-week behavioral intervention aimed at reducing their sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day by using spices and herbs. The other half reduced sodium on their own.
The Herbs and Spices Group Consumed Much Less Sodium
After following the low-sodium diet for 4 weeks in the first phase, sodium intake in the participants decreased from an average of 3,450 mg/day to an average of 1,656 mg/day.
Although overall sodium intake increased from the first phase, in the second phase, the group that received the behavioral intervention consumed around 966 mg/day of sodium less than the group that did not receive the intervention.
“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,” says Anderson.
Theseresults show that teaching individuals how to flavor food using spices and herbs, as opposed to salt, can actually result in a lower sodium intake than if they were to try to reduce intake on their own.
If you suffer from high blood pressure. Swap out salt for a healthy dose of herbs and spices instead. It help lower your overall sodium intake over an entire day. And don’t forget most herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins so you’re not just adding flavor to your meals, you’re also adding an array of nutritious goodies.
Short List of Spices and Herbs
- lemon grass
- bay leaves
- mustard seed
- black pepper
What are some other ways you keep your sodium levels in check?