Excessive salt intake has been heavily associated with high blood pressure, one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease.

For most of us, the vast majority of our salt intake comes from processed foods; think frozen pizza, salty chips, and canned foods. Eliminating processed foods can lower the amount of salt you put into your body by 75%. Once you have that mastered, it is time to look at the amount of salt you are adding to cooked food next. Among the basic principles of a healthy plant based diet is eliminating your salt intake.

Also, while swapping out salt and substituting in other spices, you’ll not only be reducing your sodium intake but raising your consumption of other beneficial compounds found only in spices. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar and nutmeg is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, just to name a few.

Worried that reducing salt means you will have to have bland food for the rest of your life? Luckily, there are a variety of spices you can use to boost your health as well as flavor your meals.

  • Basil:   Stews, salads, soups, sauces
  • Bay leaves: Stews, soups, tomatoes
  • Cardamom: Soups, quinoa, chai tea, stews, curries
  • Cider vinegar: Salads, vegetables, sauces
  • Cinnamon: Fruits (especially apples), breads, pie crusts
  • Curry powder: Tomatoes, tomato soup
  • Cumin: hearty vegetable dishes,  beans, legumes
  • Dill: soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni
  • Ginger: fruits, pickling, lentil soup, sandwiches
  • Lemongrass: Soups, stews, complements coconut flavorings
  • Lemon juice: salads, vegetables, legumes, soups, dressings
  • Mustard powder: salads, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, sauces
  • Nutmeg: Fruits, pie crust, lemonade, potatoes, pumpkin puree
  • Paprika: soups, salads, sauces, vegetables, potatoes
  • Parsley: soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Peppermint extract: Puddings, fruits
  • Rosemary: sauces, potatoes, peas, lima beans
  • Sage: biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, lima beans, onions
  • Tamarind: Potatoes, salads, quinoa, rice
  • Thyme: sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads, potatoes
  • Turmeric:  sauces, rice
  • Sumac: dressings, salad, marinades

Your preference for salty foods is merely an adaptation of what you are used to and you can program and adapt your body to enjoy flavored foods that are salt-free or very low in salt in a period of 3-4 weeks. It simply takes time and perseverance. Do not settle for bland food simply because you want to become healthier.