A behavioral study designed to teach and encourage adults to flavor their foods with herbs and spices also led to a decrease in sodium consumption. Those taking part in the 20-week study consumed 966 milligrams less of salt per day than their counterparts.
The study was broken down into two phases. For the first phase, 55 people followed a low-sodium diet for four weeks with all the foods and calorie-containing drinks provided for them. The main source of sodium in the food was salt.
For the second phase of the study, half of the study volunteers participated in a 20-week behavioral intervention. The point was to use spices and herbs to reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day. The other half were allowed to reduce sodium on their own.
The behavioral intervention group received cooking demonstrations and was invited to share how they changed traditional recipes to remove salt and replace it with spices. No specific spices were recommended. The participants tried different ones to find what the liked the best.
People in the intervention group learned problem-solving strategies, use of herbs and spices in recipes, how cultures influence spice choices, how to monitor diet, overcoming the barriers to making dietary changes, how to choose and order foods when eating out and how to make low-sodium intake permanent, said lead study author Cheryl A.M. Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., and associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego.
Sodium intake in the first phase decreased from an average 3,450 milligrams a day to an average 1,656 milligrams per day.
Sodium intake in the second phase increased for both groups, however, the participants that received the behavioral intervention of spices and herbs consumed an average 966 milligrams a day of less sodium than the other group.
Salt is abundant in the food supply and the average sodium level for Americans is very high much higher than what is recommended for healthy living, Anderson added.
Remember that if you do decide to use table salt, unrefined sea salt is best.
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