One known fact, by both the expert and the unaware, is that eating salt has many horrifying health associations. Whilst the recommendation for adults stands at 6g a day, this is soon reached, surpassed and in some cases, even trebled by consumers both young and old in the UK. It may enhance the flavour of your dish, but overconsumption over time can lead to obesity, oedema and, yep, the silent killer, hypertension (high blood pressure in non medical terms) – this can quickly lead to many cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke.
Sodium (a compound of the food, salt) is naturally occurring in many foods, even in fruit and veg. But no, don’t panic. Sodium in low quantities is needed for balance in our bodies, especially for water. The problem occurs with added salt to our foods – crisps, chips, even just seasoning. This is to enhance flavours, and once to get used to the salt, your taste buds become numb to it and just crave more and more and more (you know how you can’t stop eating pringles right? There ya go)!
There’s one magic cure (well, in Nutritionist terms) to cutting back the salt without compromising on flavour – herbs! Fresh herbs, along with spices, are sourced from plants, fresh from the earth. They are often high in b-vitamins and trace minerals making them also the perfect nutritional addition to any dish. There are SO many herbs to pick from, and they are readily available from supermarkets, greengrocers and even your garden (they’re super easy to grow too!)
So here’s five quick tips how to incorporate these simple little leaves into dishes to give them one mighty oomph.
1) Basil – “King of the herbs”, this sweet aroma leaf is the perfect addition to so many dishes. Try mixing in a few chopped up basil leaves into your pasta bake and leave the salt behind!
2) Coriander – fragrantly perfect for curries! Cooked or raw, your life will be turned upside down once you discover the Asian secret to creating that perfect dish.
3) Mint – yep, not just in chocolate! Mint is so versatile and freshing! Pop in a bottle of water alongside some strawberry slices and lime for the perfect summer drink.
4) Chives – chop chop! A delicate baby of the onion family, a few chopped chives on top of your salad will totally lift and revolutionise your boring lettuce days.
5) Cress – a primary school classic. A perfect garnish for a boiled egg sarnie to add some greens and minerals onto that lunchtime treat.
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.