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Spices and herbs can help lower salt consumption

With an understanding that too much salt in the diet can be bad for your health people are often searching for ways to cut down on their salt intake. Spices and herbs intervention can help adults lower their salt intake according to the American Heart Association in an article on March 19, 2014. Researchers say it can be considerably more effective in helping people to lower their salt intake to teach them how to flavor food with spices and herbs instead of having them do it on their own.

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During the first phase of the study 55 volunteers consumed a low-sodium diet for four weeks. The researchers provided all foods and calorie-containing drinks. Salt was the primary source of sodium in food. During the second phase, half of the study volunteers participated in a 20-week behavioral intervention which was aimed at lowering their sodium consumption to 1,500 mg/day by using spices and herbs. The other half lowered sodium on their own.

The researchers observed in the first phase, sodium consumption decreased from an average 3,450 mg/day to an average 1,656 mg/day. In the second phase, sodium consumption increased in both groups. However, those participants who received the behavioral intervention consumed an average 966 mg/day of sodium less than the group that didn’t get the intervention. Cheryl A. M. Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study, 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.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Americans consume too much sodium which is commonly consumed as salt. There is an association between high sodium consumption and increases in blood pressure. High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Research has shown a dose-dependent relationship between consuming too much salt and increased blood pressure.

Everyone needs a small amount of sodium in the range of between about 180 mg and 500 mg per day to keep our bodies working properly. The Institute of Medicine has recommended 1500 mg of sodium per day as the adequate intake level for most Americans and has advised everyone to limit sodium consumption to less than 2300 mg per day. It should be remembered that salt in moderation is generally alright and even necessary for good health but that in high amounts salt can be very unhealthy.

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