Herbs and spices give the knockout punch to salt
Have you ever heard the old saying 'variety is the spice of
life'? When it comes to cooking healthy and nutritious food,
this couldn't be truer.
Adding herbs and spices to meals not only adds colour, flavour
and variety but it can be a useful replacement for fat, sugar and
salt in your meals. Plus, herbs provide powerful antioxidants
while adding virtually no kilojoules to your plate.
Did you know that herbs and
spices contain more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables?
Just half a teaspoon of cloves contain more antioxidants than half
a cup of blueberries!
The average Australian consumes about 9-10 grams of salt every
day, well above the daily recommendation of less than 2.3 grams per
day. Reducing your salt intake will help to reduce your blood
pressure and thus reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Cutting salt may sound like an "easier said than done"
task. Salt is virtually impossible to escape from. It's
found in almost every food we eat with a staggering 75 per cent of
our salt intake coming from processed foods.
Diabetes Queensland dietitian Alison Bennett said because salt
is in so much of the food we eat, it is easy to become accustomed
to the taste.
"If you were to gradually reduce your salt intake, your taste
buds would get used to it, this may take two to three weeks," she
"The good news is that reducing salt in your diet doesn't mean
your food has to be bland and tasteless. Herbs and spices
make a perfect salt substitute and can give any meal a big flavour
Herbs and spices defined:
- Herbs are the leaves of low growing shrubs and can be used
fresh or dried. Common examples include sage, parsley, basil,
oregano, rosemary, dill, and thyme. Many herbs can be grown
both indoors and outdoors.
- Spices come from the bark, root, buds, seeds, berry or fruit of
tropical plants and trees. Examples include cinnamon, ginger,
cloves, pepper, paprika, garlic, mustard and many more.
- Seasoning blends are a mixture of dried herbs and spices.
Tips to reduce salt:
- Remove the salt shaker from the dining table (or from the
- Use a mix of herbs and spices to add to the complexity of
flavour of your foods.
- Frozen, dried or fresh herbs will add and enhance flavour to
- Spice things up - black pepper, curry powder, cumin, cayenne
pepper, and chilli powder can give your meals a real kick.
- Check the labels of ready mixed herbs and spices in the
supermarket e.g. Cajun mix, as these contain salt.
- Steam vegetables lightly to retain the colour and flavour and
add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar.
- Make your own salad dressing based on balsamic, cider or rice
vinegars and plenty of herbs.
- Use lemongrass, fresh coriander and a small amount of sesame
oil to flavour stir fries instead of soy sauce.
- Marinate fish or meat prior to cooking. A simple mix of garlic,
lemon juice, olive oil and mixed spices makes a great
- Make your own gravy, or go for a red wine sauce instead.
- Use an infused olive oil, e.g. garlic, basil, chilli or
rosemary, to sauté vegetables or as part of a salad dressing.