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Spices for Low Sodium Diet

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN ; Updated July 18, 2017

According to MedLine Plus of the National Institutes of Health, sodium works in the body to control blood pressure and blood volume, among other functions. However, if an individual has high blood pressure or heart disease, their physician may prescribe a low-sodium diet, which would involve consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or 1,500 milligrams a day for greater effectiveness. Besides cutting out processed foods, such as cured or smoked meats, salty snacks, or many convenience foods, it is also important to cut down on adding salt to foods when on a low sodium diet. There are many low salt and salt-free spices and seasonings that can add flavor to food in place of salt.

Spices and Herbs

Spices and herbs are two types of seasonings that differ in the part of the plants that they come from, according to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Spices come from the bark, root, buds, seeds, or fruit of tropical plants, while herbs come from the leaves of low-growing shrubs. Examples of spices include cinnamon, which is derived from a plant bark, and ginger, which is derived from the ginger root. Examples of herbs include parsley, chives, and thyme.

Sweet Spices

Spices such as anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, and allspice are low-sodium spices that provide a sweet flavor to foods. Allspice, according to GourmetSleuth.com, has an aroma of several spices such as cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and can be used in a variety of beef, poultry, fish, and vegetable dishes. Also known as the Jamaica pepper, allspice can also be used on fruit and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach for a subtle, sodium-free flavor.

Savory Spices

Savory spices such as black pepper, curry powder, dill seeds, and ginger provide a low-sodium bite to many foods. MedLine suggests using the powdered forms of such spices instead of the salted versions to ensure a low-sodium spice. According to the American Heart Association, some uses for savory spices include ginger with chicken or fruit, garlic with pasta, vegetables, and fish, and dill with vegetables or fish. Cumin seeds, according to Whole Foods Market, are also a great savory spice that provide a nutty, peppery flavor to foods without the sodium. Cumin can be used to make tea, or it can be added to beans, rice, and vegetables for a unique flavor. It provides a good source of iron and benefits the digestive system.

Spicy Spices

Spicy spices such as cayenne pepper add heat to a variety of dishes without the sodium. According to Whole Foods Market, cayenne pepper, a member of the Capsicum family of vegetables also known as chili peppers, add zest and heat to foods such as vegetables, beans, leafy greens, and beverages such as cocoa. In addition to providing heat to foods, the high capsaicin content of cayenne pepper has been shown to have pain-reducing effects, decongestant properties, and cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, according to research reported by the Whole Foods Market.

Herb Blends

Herbs and herb blends provide a variety of opportunities to create unique, low-sodium flavorings for foods. Basil, oregano, parsley and pepper can create a low-sodium Italian herb blend, while sage and thyme can create a low-sodium poultry herb blend, according to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Adding cilantro to foods can provide a Mexican flavor, while adding marjoram can give a French flavor to foods without the added sodium. In addition, low-salt herb blends such as Mrs. Dash and Mr. Spice provide a variety of ways to flavor food without adding salt.

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