Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour. – William Cowper

So why do we continue to limit ourselves to salt and sugar when adding taste to our foods when we know it isn’t doing our health any good.

Remember moderation in all things as sodium (salt) is required in small amounts for some important functions in our body.  Without sodium you would not be able to flex your muscles i.e. move, and signals would not be conducted through our nervous system.  A small amount is the key here.

On average, Australian’s consume 7-8 times more salt than required and  about 70% of the salt in our diets is from processed foods, hence the value in reducing our consumption of these types of foods.  According to FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), the foods highest in salt content include bread and bread rolls (25%), meat, poultry & game products and dishes, including processed meat (21%), cereal products and cereal based dishes (e.g. biscuits and pizza) (17%), savoury sauces and condiments (8%) and cheese (5%). Breakfast cereals contribute approximately 4% of total salt consumption from processed foods and dried soup mixes less than 3%.  The bottom line is most of us are eating too much of it.  I will leave sugar for another day as that will involve a whole blog page (if not more).

So what can we use instead to flavour foods that may have added health benefits?

Here are a few simple and basic examples:

Black Pepper

High in antioxidants black pepper is a great way to add bite to your food.  Black Pepper has an antibacterial effect, and assists with digestion.  The outer skin of black pepper has also been shown to help break down of fat cells which may assist with weight loss.

Ever tried black pepper on fresh strawberries? – strange yet it intensifies the flavour.

Lemon

Vitamin C increases the bio-availability of iron in leafy green vegetables.  So not only will squeezing lemon on vegetables add taste, it is also a great way to increase your iron intake.  This is especially important for vegetarians who need to be mindful of their diet to satisfy their iron requirements.

Add lemon to your stir fry instead of high salt soy sauce.

Lemon, Olive Oil & Black Pepper is a great salad dressing and good for the budget as well.

Ginger

Ginger is known for its benefits in relieving gastrointestinal upsets and easing nausea.  It also has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Ginger has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and there is even an ayurvedic sutra that states “everyone should eat ginger before lunch and dinner to aid digestion”.

Try adding ginger root to your drinking water. – adds taste and has a great calming effect

Ginger in juices such as Apple, Carrot Celery & Ginger, Orange & Ginger, Watermelon & Ginger

Grated ginger over salads for extra bite.

Parsley

Parsley is derived from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” parsley is one of the most commonly used herbs in our kitchens.  So what are the benefits to our bodies?  It is a good source of antioxidants in particular vitamins A & E and has also been noted for its antibacterial properties which can make it a great breath freshening alternative to chewing gum.

Parsley in pasta – especially if you are adding garlic to the dish

As a garnish to salads

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