15 Herbs That Can Help You Kick the Salt Trap

For a tasty salt substitute, these 15 savory herbs can help you kick your salt habit without sacrificing flavor in the process.

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When it comes to adding a little flavor to your dish, where do you turn? We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess you reach for the saltshaker—and that it isn’t filled with a salt substitute. And you’re not alone. Salt is a fan favorite when it comes to the spice rack, but as friendly as salt may be to your taste buds, it’s not so friendly to your body. Excessive sodium intake can cause all sorts of health problems in the long run because your body retains excess water, therefore raising your blood pressure and putting a strain on your kidneys, arteries, heart and brain. So how much salt is too much? As Livestrong reports, according to the American Association of Kidney Patients, “Lower salt usage means lower blood pressure. The association recommends less than 5g, or 100 nanomols of sodium daily, which translates into 2,300 mg per day.” If 2,300 mg sounds like gibberish to you, it’s about one teaspoon of salt. A DAY. Uh oh, guess we better cut back on the bacon. Don’t worry, we’re here to make this transition a little easier on you with 15 herbs that can help you kick your salt habit without sacrificing flavor in the process.

1. Basil


This bold herb is an excellent addition to salads, sandwiches and pastas. It adds a dose of Italian flavoring without unnecessary sodium.

2. Thyme

Thyme—popular in Mediterranean and French cuisines—is delicious for seasoning roasted meats, soups or stews. And if you aren’t one of those people who keeps a lot of fresh herbs on hand, thyme is also delicious in it’s dried (and shelf stable) form.

3. Mint

A few pieces of mint herbs

Few things are as refreshing as an iced tea (who are we kidding, an iced cocktail) with some mint leaves on a warm summer day. But why stop there? Mint is wonderful in salads, pastas or as a topping on many desserts such as sorbet.

4. Dill

Dill, some people love it, some people, well…don’t. But it is a fresh tasting herb that can take your dish to another level of flavor when paired with everything from juicy salmon to sweet roasted carrots or creamy new potatoes.

5. Chives


Chives are all about the flavor, which makes them a great salt substitute. Yes, they have some antioxidant properties, but more than anything you can turn to chives for adding a major flavor boost. Similar in taste to leeks or onions, chives are a great addition to soups, grains, potatoes and meats.

6. Black Pepper

Black pepper is a much healthier option than its partner in crime. Before you think about reaching for the salt, grab the pepper. It’s loaded with flavor without the unwanted effects of excessive sodium intake. And you can use it both to season dishes as you cook or to add flavor once your food is ready.

7. Allspice


Allspice—as the name suggests–smells and tastes like a combination of a number of fragrant spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, juniper, and pepperco
rn. However, it’s actually derived from the dried berry of the Jamaican pimento tree. Many of us don’t know how to use Allspice or when it would be an appropriate seasoning, but try using it when making jerk chicken or any Latin cuisine for a little flavor boost.

8. Cilantro

Cilantro, one of the most unique of the natural herbs, has a strong, pungent flavor, and if you prefer mild tasting dishes it might not be for you. Cilantro is great in guacamole and other Latin recipes, and is also a delicious addition to marinades if you want to add an exotic flair.

9. Oregano

Some herbs with oregano

Oregano is one of the most widely used herbs in the world. It has a strong, slightly spicy flavor and a pungent aroma, and is probably most well known as the “pizza” herb. But it’s not just for pizza anymore; Oregano is delicious paired with almost any tomato-based dish and complements most meats and vegetables.

10. Rosemary

Some natural herbs have more flavor than fragrance, but not so with Rosemary. This herb has a wonderful, piney smell that is almost as tasty to the nose as it is to your taste buds.

11. Sage

A bouquet of sage herbs

Thanks to its pleasant aroma, sage isn’t just for the kitchen—it’s often used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics. And if you’re into mixology, a lot of gourmet cocktails (and mocktails for that matter) use sage. When it comes to cooking, it’s a great way to add flavor to roast turkey and stuffing, among other things.

12. Curry Powder

Actual curry seasoning is a blend of ground cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, red pepper, fenugreek, allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, mustard, fennel and mace. Needless to say, curry is a complex seasoning with complex flavors, which makes it a great salt substitute. Try using curry powder in lentil soup, chicken and couscous dishes.

13. Paprika


Paprika is made from ground sweet red peppers, which explains the slightly smoky, slightly sweet flavor and bright red coloring. Try making baked French fries sprinkled with paprika (instead of salt) for a tasty and healthy treat even the kids will love.

14. Parsley

Parsley does more than just decorate your dish. It is also flavorful and has several important healing properties. Parsley is a rich source of antioxidants as well as vitamin C and vitamin A. In addition, parsley is a good source of folic acid, which can promote a healthy heart. Try using this nutrient-packed herb in dishes such as couscous, tabouli, salads and pesto sauce.

15. Tarragon

Tarragon herbs

If you like black licorice, you’ll love tarragon. An herb with a distinctive anise (or licorice) flavor, tarragon pairs wonderfully with seafood, poultry and most vegetables, as well as many sauces, especially béarnaise sauce.

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