Wellness Consultant Lori Howard of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) encourages everyone to consume less salt and eat more fruits and vegetables. The two go hand-in-hand in fighting high blood pressure. Lori is a registered dietitian.
As part of National Nutrition Month, Americans are encouraged to enjoy the taste of eating right. While it’s easy to grab the salt shaker when cooking or eating, you can enhance flavors with herbs and spices.
Salt-free alternatives Lori says if you’re not sure which herbs to use, Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning blends are a great way to get started. She also offers these suggestions:
- Squeeze juice from a fresh lemon or lime on cauliflower, broccoli, peas, cabbage and sweet corn
- Use a few tablespoons of homemade chicken stock over steamed vegetables
- Sauté your favorite vegetables in olive oil with garlic (don’t use garlic salt) and onions
- Simmer carrots in cinnamon and nutmeg
For more creative ideas on how to use herbs and spices when you cook, check out suggestions from the American Heart Association’s website.
Recommended intake Experimenting with herbs and spices can be good for your health. The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that most people aim for 2,300 mg of salt or sodium a day. That amounts to one teaspoon! But if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or are older than 50 or African American, you should limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day. It’s very easy to go over the limit when you add up the sodium contained in processed foods and soft drinks.
Lori offers these simple solutions to help you consume less sodium:
- Cook more at home
- Eat more whole foods
- Eat less processed foods
- Check food labels for sodium content
And finally, when you’re preparing your meals, Lori says to fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Just be sure to season them with herbs and spices and not salt.
Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.