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Diet and nutrition: more herbs, less salt

When you think of “flavor,” what usually comes to mind? One of the main ingredients that may jump out is salt! Does “this has zero flavor, it needs more salt” sound familiar? It’s okay if it does because salt is a common commodity and is accessible in practically every grocery store. However, too much salt can cause your body to retain excess water.

You might notice some swelling in your hands, feet, legs or belly region after a salty meal or snack. High amounts of salt can also spike your blood pressure and damage your heart, kidneys or liver. Therefore, it is important to monitor your sodium intake. A good way to do so is by replacing salt with herbs and spices for additional flavor. Using herbs and spice can encourage you to get creative and have fun when cooking. You can even "spice" things up by making your own garden and what better time to do so than during summer!

Here are some ways to flavor different types of food items:

Food ItemFlavor Pairings
ChickenBasil, thyme, oregano, paprika, turmeric,
cloves, sage, saffron, rosemary, chili powder 
EggDill, dry mustard, garlic or garlic powder,
onion powder, parsley, paprika, rosemary
TofuCurry powder, paprika or smoked paprika,
garlic & onion powder, turmeric, green onion 
FishBay leaf, basil, curry, dill, lemon juice +
pepper, paprika, turmeric, garlic powder&nbsp
VegetablesGinger, thyme, oregano, onion & garlic
powder, tarragon, basil, cumin, paprika
DessertsAllspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

Spice Blend Recipe:

  • 5 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons crushed thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed

You can put this mixture into a container to save and use for more recipes. Remember, a little bit of spice goes a long way! These flavorings are great options to use instead of salt or sodium-containing seasonings! Most importantly, many of these herbs and spices have been shown to reduce your risk of cancer and benefit your overall health.


Courtesy of Danielle Rednick, VCU Health dietetic intern. Visit our Diet and Nutrition blog for more recipes and information about the connection between diet and cancer survivorship.


Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: August 10, 2020

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