Using Herbs and Spices to Cut Sugar and Sodium
Registered dietitian nutritionist for Intermountain Healthcare gives kitchen hacks for healthy recipes.
Salt Lake City, UT (PRUnderground) October 13th, 2022
People looking to cut back on sodium and sugar intake can look to herbs and spices for a helping hand in the kitchen – and for their heart.
“If your food tastes bland, salt is often the first thing we use to enhance flavor. But the typical American consumes twice the recommended amount of sodium intake every day,” said Carly Alba, registered dietitian nutritionist for Intermountain Healthcare.
“Using sodium-free herbs and spices is a great way to reduce your daily sodium intake while still keeping your food tasty.”
Excess sodium can lead to increased blood pressure, stroke risk, heart failure, and other chronic illnesses, the American Heart Association reports.
Watching sodium intake can help improve heart health, Alba said. Using herbs and spices in cooking can help, and turn more bland foods into flavorful, interesting dishes.
“Salt and sugar are often used as smoke and mirrors to make bland food more palatable,” said Christopher Delissio, executive chef de cuisine for Intermountain Healthcare.
“There’s not any particular salt or sugar substitute found in herbs and spices,” he said. “But using herbs and spices in cooking can take one-dimensional foods and make their flavors more dynamic and complex, which takes away some of the need for salt and sugar.”
For example, items like vanilla and cinnamon can add a layer of natural sweetness to foods, Delissio said.
The natural flavors, sweetness, and appearance of foods also can be enhanced by using different cooking techniques, he said.
“Properly searing a protein creates the maillard reaction, which adds depth and complexity to the flavors, as well as visual appeal,” Delissio said. “Sautéing onions until they’re dark brown leads to caramelization of the natural sugars. This makes the onions taste sweeter, richer, and more complex. Adding caramelized onions boosts the depth of flavors in any dish.”
Onions and cinnamon also are among sodium-free herbs and spices, which also include allspice, basil, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, mint, paprika, nutmeg, onion, rosemary, and more, Alba said.
Alba offers these tips when deciding which herbs and spices to use in cooking:
- Powdered herbs and spices are stronger than dried, and dried herbs are stronger than fresh herbs,
- Dried herbs and spices can be stored for up to a year if they are covered and kept in a dry, cool spot out of direct sunlight.
Recipes and ideas for healthy cooking are available at IntermountainHealthcare.org.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Headquartered in Utah with locations in eight states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information and updates, click here