Americans have quite a taste for salt-laden flavors—and it’s not doing our health any favors. Eating too much salt causes the body to retain water, which can raise blood pressure—a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Does this mean you’re doomed to eat bland foods if you want a healthy heart? Au contraire. With the right herbs and spices, your diet can be heart-healthy and dazzle your taste buds. Here’s how to season your eats without salt—and make your heart so happy, it just might skip a beat.
If you love cookin’ up some cibo Italiano, stock your fridge with fresh basil, garlic, and parsley, and add some oregano and onion powder to your spice collection. To take your heart-healthy Italian cooking a step further, cook with olive oil, which is full of healthy fats, instead of butter.
Mexican food is known for being hot, hot, hot. Spice up your comida with some chopped jalapeños, cayenne pepper, or chili powder, or add some garlic and cilantro to your eats for full flavor with a little less kick.
The spices used in Indian food are colorful, fragrant, and packed with health-boosting properties. Whether you’re cooking meat, roasting some veggies, or whipping up some rice, make your dish pop with a little turmeric (the spice that gives curry its bright yellow color), coriander, cumin, or cardamom.
Love a good veggie stir-fry? Next time you’re whipping up a meal in your wok, add sesame oil and fresh, minced ginger to the mix for a fragrant, magically nutritious kick. (Check out these amazing health benefits of ginger.) Or, if you like spicy, swap out the ginger for chili oil.
Surf and Turf
If you’re cooking up some lean meat, like chicken, turkey or pork chops, or seafood, like salmon or shrimp, try seasoning it with this dynamic trio: olive oil, garlic, and lemon. If you’re feeling extra creative, why not add a rosemary sprig or two too?
By experimenting with these heart-smart pantry staples, you’ll not only spice up your cooking (and impress your friends to boot), but you’ll give your health a boost too. (And, hey, you may not even miss the salt.)