It is well recognised that we should be careful with our salt consumption. When we talk about salt we are referring to sodium chloride or common table salt. The recommended salt consumption over and above the salt we find in food is just one teaspoon a day.
Salt (sodium) is recognised to be a contributor of high blood pressure as the body will hold on to additional fluid to dilute the sodium in your blood, this increases the pressure. Processed foods can increase the sodium consumption in your diet and there is no need to add salt to your food most of the time.
With this in mind, I’m marking More Herbs Less Salt Day which takes place on August 29, by offering a few handy tips. The origins of the ‘day’ itself are unknown however it’s an apt moment to take some small easy steps to reduce your salt intake, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Many people add salt to increase the flavour of food. But did you know that whilst herbs add flavour to your dishes they also have many health benefits too?
Let’s look at five common herbs and the health benefits they can deliver:
Rosemary is commonly found in an English garden and adds lovely flavour to all types of roasted dishes (meats and vegetables). It has antioxidant properties protecting your cells from damaging free radicals. It also has antibacterial, properties so acts as a great immune protector.
Oregano is often used in tomato based dishes. It is antibacterial and also anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic.
Mint is another popular English herb that can grow abundantly in our climate. Chewing mint after a meal can help relieve bloating, cramping and other gastro-intestinal discomfort. Try a tea with fresh mint leaves. This is far more effective than a standard mint teabag. The benefits come from the fresh volatile oils in the leaves (put a saucer over the cup to trap the oils).
Parsley is so often used as a garnish with dishes yet ignored as part of the meal. I always eat it and suggest you do the same! Parsley helps to freshen your breath (useful after a garlic heavy meal) and helps aid digestion. It’s a great source of vitamin C and iron (due to its rich green colour).
Basil has a special aromatic flavour that pairs well with sweet and savoury dishes. Like many other herbs it has anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to reducing the pain associated with arthritis. And like the herbs mentioned above it also has anti-microbial properties helping to keep the gut healthy.
My recommendation is to add lots of herbs to your dishes as collectively they provide so many overlooked vitamins and minerals and health benefits . They are easy to grow too (either in pots on a window sill or in garden beds close to the kitchen).
By Caroline Peyton, a qualified nutritional therapist and naturopath who has been working in Wiltshire and the Cotswolds for more than ten years. A specialist in gut health and in helping women over 40 with digestive issues, she regularly holds online clinics and courses as well. For more details visit https://www.peytonprinciples.com