Spoons full of spices.

By Taylor Ellingson, RDN, LD

Creating healthful meals doesn’t have to be boring. Incorporating different herbs and spices can enhance flavors without the traditional route of salt and pepper. As recommended by the American Heart Association, sodium intake should be limited to 1,500 mg per day.1 The typical American diet varies but averaging around 3,400 mg or more per day.1

Spicing up your meals with herbs can not only reduce the amount of sodium, but it can also provide great health benefits including heart health.1 

Instead of adding brown sugar or honey into oatmeal, you can substitute it with cinnamon to give it a sweet flavor without the added sugars. Or if steak is on the menu, season it with oregano, thyme, or garlic to give it a strong, pungent flavor. Here is a breakdown of our favorite herbs and spices that help pack on the flavor, not the sodium, for your next meal.

Dried Herbs2,3

  • Creates a stronger flavor with a smaller amount 
  • May need to be crushed to release oils for enhanced flavors
  • 1 tsp dried = ~4 tsp fresh

Fresh Herbs

  • The finer the chop, the more flavor it releases
  • Freezing or refrigerating in an airtight container will prolong the freshness

New Herbs and Spices to Try3,4

  • Rosemary: 
    • Has a piney aroma. Can be pared with fish, cauliflower, and beef. Contains antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Cumin:
    • Nutty and peppery flavor. Typically used in chili, tacos, guacamole, and stews. 
  • Fresh Basil:
    • Highly fragrant with a sweet flavor. Different sauces, pizzas, and Italian dishes use this herb frequently. Health benefits include anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics.
  • Ginger:
    • Very pungent and spicy taste. Commonly used in Asian cuisine – vegetable dishes, tea, and vegetable dishes. May help ease upset stomach or joint problems.  
  • Mint:
    • This herb has a bright and minty flavor. It can be used in different salads, water, or smoothies. The leaves are a source of Vitamin A, which supports your immune system. 

Ready to give it a try? Check out these delicious Livea recipes that incorporate these flavors and will help you with your weight-loss goals.

Livea Recipes


References: 

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2019). DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456 
  2. Jiang T. A. (2019). Health benefits of culinary herbs and spicesJournal of AOAC International102(2), 395–411. https://doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.18-0418
  3. Herbs. (2019). Better Health Channel. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/herbs
  4. McKamey, C. (n.d). Veggie chick’s guide to herbs and spices. Veggie chick. https://veggiechick.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Herbs-and-Spices-101.pdf