We get it already! Too much salt is not good for us, and we’re likely consuming too much. But, can we be honest, it tastes good. And it’s already in so much of our food before we even pick up the salt shaker that our taste buds learn to crave it. A little sea salt over some sautéed asparagus or sprinkled on popcorn… Mmmmm.
But those pesky experts keep telling us that we need to reduce our sodium intake. High sodium diets increase risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. People that add salt to their meals have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Americans in general eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, but the American Diabetes Association recommends a maximum of up to 2,300 milligrams, or one teaspoon per day. Yikes!
But bland food is boring. We want to enjoy what we’re eating. We need flavor! Here are six ways to make food flavorful without getting salty:
1. Perk Up With Pepper
Don’t forget about the other shaker on the table! Pepper aids in digestive tract function and helps the body absorb betacarotenes, selenium, and B-vitamins. One of the essential oils in pepper, piperine, is an anti-depressant and helps you think more clearly. Black pepper can also stimulate your base metabolism and help you lose weight. Do be advised that too much pepper can irritate the intestines, but a little bit goes a long way.
Pepper tastes best when freshly ground, and whole peppercorns last longer anyway, so get a cheap pepper mill and grind up some flavor!
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2. Garnish With Garlic
Garlic has been prized for hundreds of years as a solution for hair loss, a cure for the common cold, and even an aphrodisiac. Vampires may hate it, but humans love it for it’s pungent flavor and tempting aroma. You can cook with garlic or add minced garlic directly to your food—it definitely has enough of a punch to replace salt!
Garlic can help reduce blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol, though the studies making those claims experimented with large amounts of garlic. Still, replacing salt with garlic gets rid of the negatives of sodium and may have several positives, and will definitely add flavor. But pace yourself, too much garlic at once can cause gas and gastrointestinal distress.