Don’t pass the salt! Here’s how to add flavour punch without raising your blood pressure

The average Brit consumes 8.4g of salt per day
The average Brit consumes 8.4g of salt per day - Sabina Iliescu / 500px

We are so used to adding salt to our meals we do it on autopilot, but a new study has revealed that regularly seasoning meals with salt increases the risk of developing heart problems by a fifth. The NHS recommendation is to have no more than 6g of salt a day as it can cause high blood pressure, which in turn leads to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and some types of dementia.

According to The British Heart Foundation the average Brit consumes 8.4g of salt per day, 40% over the national guideline, so cutting down is something most of us would benefit from.

Here are three easy ways to pack more flavour into your meals without resorting to salt.

Spice things up

When it comes to flavour, head straight to the spice rack. If your bottles have been collecting dust it might be time to invest in some fresh ones because spices begin to lose their potency after about a year. In addition to bags of flavour, spices also boast a range of health benefits, from the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric to the digestive benefits of ginger, spices truly are nature’s pharmacy.


Cumin, cinnamon and chilli powder work well as a rub for red meat and chicken and paprika is a wonderful flavour combination for fish. Try making an Indian-style marinade by combining 1 tbsp oil with 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp curry powder and ½ tsp turmeric.

Or, make up a delicious spice mix that will work with anything, by combining 1 tbsp each of ground fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom and turmeric. Store in an airtight container and use as an instant flavour base for curries, or mix some up with olive oil and mixed seeds to make a spicy seed topper to sprinkle over eggs, salads and soup.

Try flavoured oils

If you are yet to be converted to the wonders of flavoured oils then life in the kitchen is about to get a whole lot easier. Think chilli, garlic, basil, rosemary, lemon – with these to hand you can quickly add flavour to all manner of dishes with a quick drizzle. The only downside is that flavoured oils can be expensive, but happily it’s super easy to make your own.

In a small pan, place 250ml extra virgin olive oil with your chosen flavouring from the following: 2 tbsp red chilli flakes, the finely sliced zest of a lemon, 4 cloves of crushed garlic or a handful of fresh herbs blitzed in the food processor. Warm over a low heat until it starts to bubble. Continue to heat for another couple of minutes until the oil is fragrant. Cool completely, then carefully strain the oil into a clean, airtight bottle. Refrigerate and use within a month.

Add some tang

Chefs call lemon juice 'the third seasoning'
Chefs call lemon juice 'the third seasoning' - bhofack2/istockphoto

Lemon juice is such a powerful flavour enhancer that chefs call it the third seasoning. Added to soups, curries or even over avocado on toast, there’s not much a squeeze of lemon juice won’t improve. Lemon and other citrus juices also contain an abundance of the antioxidant vitamin C, key for supporting immunity and maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.

Another way to get zing into your meals is with a dash of vinegar. There’s a plethora of choice on the supermarket shelves these days, but to flavour roast potatoes in place of salt try a drizzle of good old-fashioned balsamic. Place your peeled and cut potatoes in a baking tray along with a bulb of peeled garlic cloves and a handful of peeled and halved shallots. Toss with 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and a few rosemary springs. Roast at 180C, turning occasionally, for 45 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Which spices and seasonings do you use when you’re cooking? Let us know in the comments section below