|Salt: Good at low doses, bad at high doses|
For good heart health, we have been coached to limit sodium consumption. This new research report links the massive amounts of sodium we consume with heart problems for people in 66 different countries. As you might expect, across the board sodium consumption is far above the recommended levels of 2.0 grams per day. In fact, the average global level is a whopping 3.95 grams!
Next, they did a meta-analysis of 107 studies to show just how this impacts blood pressure and your risk for heart disease. Again, as expected, as sodium intake increases so does your risk of having some catastrophic cardiac event.
The difficulty for cutting down on sodium comes when food manufacturers add it to so many food products both as a preservative and also as a flavor enhancer. Fortunately though, there are natural alternatives to sodium that can accomplish both of these goals without increasing your risk for cardiac calamity. And the bonus feature of these natural items is that they make your food taste wonderful in the process!
Natural Flavor Enhancers
Herbs and spices are sometimes said to enhance the flavor of the meal – and they do! But the term “flavor enhancer” is applied to something that can increase your ability to taste other flavors in the dish you’re preparing. That thing may or may not have its own flavor.
|Lemon juice can act like a flavor enhancer!|
Salt is an example of a substance that brings out the other flavors in your meal. But if you wanted to cut back on sodium, what could you substitute it with besides MSG, hydrolyzed protein, or the other artificial flavor enhancers? Acidic foods like lemon or white wine vinegar!
Chemically, acidic substances like these lower the pH of the dish. But the effect on your palate is that you notice more of the many flavor components present in that dish. It’s a very common practice by those who cook to just add a wee splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon to savory meals to make the flavors pop out for you and your family. It is a delicious natural alternative to sodium to use as a very healthy flavor enhancer.
Salt is a flavor enhancer, but it is also a preservative. And one of the main reasons it is added to food products is to make sure they don’t go bad.
But there are some wonderful natural alternatives to the massive amounts of salt put in our foods. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E (you’ll see these on labels as ascorbic acid and tocopherol) also prevent bacterial growth.
|Chili is a cancer fighter that also makes your nose run!|
In fact, for most of our culinary history prior to refrigeration, herbs and spices were added to foods not to flavor them but to make sure they didn’t spoil. The amazingly delicious herbs with antibacterial properties include rosemary, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, hops, cloves, mustard, and allspice.
This also explains why the spiciest foods – the hottest ones that make you sweat – are found in the hottest climates. That’s because spices like chilies are loaded with capsaicin, which is strongly antimicrobial. That’s how the traditional spices of cultures like India, Mexico, and southeast Asia increased the safety of their foods but the health and flavor as well!