Reduce salt intake with healthy herbs and spices

Learn how to add herbs and spices to your foods in place of table salt for better health.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), close to half of American adults have high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. When high blood pressure is left untreated, it could lead to kidney disease, stroke or even a heart attack. One specific cause of high blood pressure is a high intake of sodium, which is found in salt. AHA recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg a day for most adults. For a better picture, 1 teaspoon of salt equals 2,300 mg sodium. Where is most of the sodium in our diet found? Most sodium is already in the foods we consume, and does not come from the salt shaker. On average, Americans consume more than twice the ideal limit of sodium each day.

We can reduce sodium intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats. Checking the Nutrition Facts Label for sodium content when grocery shopping can also help you become more aware of higher sodium foods. Additionally, make your foods tastier and healthier by using herbs and spices rather than table salt. Each herb and spice has been shown to have unique nutritional benefits supported by research. It is important to note that some herbs and spices may have interactions with medications. It is recommended to discuss with your primary care provider any possible interactions with your currently prescribed medications before using herbs and spices.

Be creative when choosing what herbs and spices you want to add to your foods. Try a new combination to see what your preferences are. To get started, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, provides recommended herbs and spices for different types of dishes:


Recommended Herbs & Spices

Beef & Pork (leaner choices include “loin,” “chop,” and “round” cuts)

Cayenne Pepper, Nutmeg, Sage, Thyme, Cumin, Turmeric with Black Pepper, Curry


Allspice, Basil, Celery Seed, Dill Weed, Marjoram, Thyme, Saffron


Rosemary, Parsley, Paprika, Ginger, Oregano


Garlic Powder, Curry, Oregano, Anise, Cinnamon


Bay Leaf, Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Allspice, Lemongrass, Sage

Salads & Dressings

Parsley, Basil, Dill, Thyme, Oregano, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Tarragon

Grains (rice, quinoa)

Paprika, Parsley, Chives, Saffron, Annatto Seeds, Tamarind

To learn more about growing your own herbs and spices, Michigan State University Extension provides gardening classes including Master Gardener Program. For a complete list of gardening classes available, please visit:

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