As conditions like hypertension and other cardiovascular issues affect seniors at a disproportionate rate, efforts toward a heart-healthy diet are integral to maintaining a good quality of life with age. Simple factors like cutting salt and fat can go a long way, and research from the University of California, San Diego suggests that the answer may lie in everyday spices and herbs.
Authors of the study presented their findings at a recent scientific session of the American Heart Association, revealing that teaching people how to cook with these low-calorie flavor enhancers may be more effective at reducing salt intake than behavioral interventions aimed at creating low sodium diet meals.
Benefits of low sodium diet
The report states that people are much more likely to decrease their sodium levels if they know how to cook and season their food themselves without sacrificing taste. The study compared two groups of people trying to lower the amount of salt they ate per day. One group was taught how to prepare food themselves and was encouraged to try new and different combinations until they found what they liked best, while the other group was simply asked to reduce salt intake.
The lead author of the study, Cheryl A. M. Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., said in the report, “People in the intervention group learned problem-solving strategies, use of herbs and spices in recipes, how culture influences 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.”
What the study showed
The results suggested that those who were taught to cook with herbs and spices consumed significantly less sodium than those who were left to their own devices.
Too much salt in your diet raises your blood pressure, allows your body to retain too much liquid and puts a stress on your heart, according to the American Heart Association. The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center states that the human body only needs a quarter of a teaspoon of sodium per day, but the average American consumes around 20 times that amount.