- Why do humans need salt?
- Why is salt bad for you?
- Why are herbs a better alternative to salt?
- How can I reduce my salt intake?
- Eat frozen to reduce your salt consumption
Few other pleasures in life produce the same joy as salt.
It just makes everything taste better – chips, meat, ice cream, bread, soups and sauces are all transformed into heavenly delights with the addition of salt.
The craving we have for salt even has some scientific basis with the consumption of the mineral capable of altering the same reward pathways in the brain that are impacted by consuming drugs of abuse.
And like the negative impact which such drugs have on our bodies, high-salt diets come at a high price too.
‘More herbs, Less salt day’ is an annual day dedicated to promoting the use of herbs to flavour our food instead of adding salt.
Why do humans need salt?
Our borderline addiction to salt is not unfounded; it’s a mineral we cannot live without.
Salt is made up of sodium and chloride, both of which play an important role in the healthy functioning of the body.
A feeling of needing salt is not always necessarily bad either and can be an indication of dehydration, low electrolyte levels or lack of sleep.
Why is salt bad for you?
Despite it being a mineral the body requires, salt is not good for us when consumed in higher quantities.
The main worry with a high-salt diet is its link to high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
With few to no symptoms, untreated high blood pressure is a silent killer that four million people under the age of 65 are living with in the UK.
Partly to blame for this worrying statistic is that in the UK, we are one of the top consumers of salt in the world, alongside the USA, China, Australia and South Africa.
However, the blame does not fall entirely at the feet of consumers; three quarters of the salt we eat is put into the food we buy from supermarkets.
Whilst it’s daunting to feel that you have little control over your salt intake considering the amount of it pumped into our foods, there is an easy way to resolve this: choose herbs.
Why are herbs a better alternative to salt?
There is an abundance of research which has indicated the benefits of eating herbs. From their anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties to their ability to lower the body’s cholesterol, herbs are undoubtedly a healthier alternative to salt.
From Thyme, which has microbial properties, meaning it can help fight harmful organisms in the body, to Basil, which has been associated with protecting our livers, and parsley, a rich source of vitamin K and aids the production of proteins for blood clotting and bone construction.
How can I reduce my salt intake?
Understanding the recommended daily consumption of salt is a great place to start decreasing the amount of salt in your diet.
According to the NHS, adults should not eat more than one teaspoon (six grams) of salt a day.
The recommended amount for children is significantly less – infants aged between one and three should not consume more than two grams of salt and those aged seven to ten should not eat more than five.
If you’re struggling to minimise your salt intake, tips for reducing it include:
- Using herbs for seasoning instead of salt.
- Reducing your intake of fast food, takeaways and meals which contain high quantities of salt.
- Avoid adding salt to your food in restaurants and minimise using it in your home cooking.
- Remember that ingredients like olives, anchovies, cheese, and most meats already have salt in them so don’t add more.
- Eat more fresh whole foods, fruits and vegetables.
- Pay attention to how much salt is in food products and brands.
Eat frozen to reduce your salt intake
Another brilliant way to monitor how much salt you’re consuming is to eat frozen meals which display all of the ingredients and their measurements on the packaging.