Less salt, lower blood pressure

Herbs and spices make great salt substitutes

Using less table salt and salt in cooking may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease. To avoid salt without sacrificing flavor, experiment by making your own seasoning blends.

Chinese five-spice blend for chicken, fish, or pork
Combine ¼ cup ground ginger, 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon each ground allspice and anise seed.

Mexican blend for chili, enchiladas, and tacos
Combine ¼ cup chili powder; 1 tablespoon each ground cumin and onion powder; 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper; and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

Mixed herbs for salads, steamed vegetables, or fish
Combine ¼ cup dried parsley, 2 tablespoons dried tarragon, and 1 tablespoon each dried oregano, dill weed, and celery flakes.

Hidden salt

Always check nutrition labels for the amount of sodium, which is commonly added as a preserving or flavoring agent in frozen entrees, luncheon meats, canned vegetables, and even frozen chicken and turkey breasts. Sodium causes the body to retain fluid, one thing that contributes to high blood pressure. Experts recommend limiting sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day — the equivalent of about 1 tsp. of table salt. A lower sodium level — 1,500 mg a day — is appropriate for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who are African-American or who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Table salt is sodium plus chloride. Condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickles, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and some prepared seasonings typically contain lots of salt. Restaurant and fast foods can also be high in salt.

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