Salt or Spices; Which Should Be More In Your Food?

Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer is a food enthusiast, Writer/Content Creator. Driven by passion, as the Head of content for African Food Network, she strives to curate exciting, fun, informative and functional content.
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Herbs and spices can liven up your food and add variety. They are also better for your heart health than salt. You might have heard several arguments on salt and spices. Some people believe you should use more salt, while others think spices are more important.

Before we make this deduction, it is best to understand the composition of salt and spices, how they affect our general health and their impact on food quality.

African spices
African spices

What Is Salt Made Of?

Salt which is a mineral, is composed mainly of sodium chloride. In natural form, salt is a crystalline mineral or what we call rock salt. Salt makes up about 35% of ocean water and is mined from the ocean. Mined salt is often refined to produce table salt which we use in cooking various foods.

Salt also serves as a natural preservative in a variety of foods like meat, fish and dairy products. Salt also promotes the development of colours in food and provides uniform texture in different foods.

What Is a Spice Technically?

A spice is a plant substance which is primarily used for colouring, flavouring and preserving food. They can be obtained from the seed, fruit, root or bark of plants or trees. Spices are available in several forms like fresh, whole dried or pre-ground dried, but generally, spices are dried. Most people prefer to make spices in powdered form for convenience. Examples of some spices are:

  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

african spices

Using little spice can make the basic recipe taste new and interesting.

Despite the nutritional benefit of salt, studies have shown that excessive intake of salt daily increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes or kidney diseases. Home cooked meals offer an opportunity to cut your salt intake because various packaged foods contain a full day’s supply of your daily sodium needs in one serving.

Therefore, consuming more packaged food increases your risk of consuming high amount of salt which inadvertently leads to unwanted health complications.

Substituting spices for salts in your cooking recipes gives you a more healthy meal and exposes you to a variety of flavours in food. Most people do not add spices to food because they are not familiar with the options and how to use them. Spices are known to fight inflammation and reduce damage to cells in your body. Some spice options that will help boost your health are given below:

  1. Turmeric

Turmeric is best known as a major ingredient in the production of curry powder. It has gradually become a superfood as a result of its ability to reduce inflammation. An important component of turmeric is a substance called curcumin.

Curcumin can reduce inflammation in the brain and prevent the onset of depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Because of its inflammatory qualities, curcumin is also very effective in reducing pain and swelling in people with arthritis. Curmins also have powerful anti-carcinogenic properties.

Tumeric helps boost the immune system
Image from Unsplash
  1. Ginger

Ginger is a tropical plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat stomach upsets, diarrhea, and nausea.

You can use ginger as a dry powder or decide to use it fresh. Research has found that ginger is effective in calming pregnancy-related nausea and reducing tummy upset after surgery.

Ground Ginger 1

  1. Garlic

Eating garlic protects your heart from changes that lead to heart diseases. Garlic intake has been linked with keeping blood vessels flexible, especially in women. Also eating garlic may reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. Garlic can be used fresh or used in dried powder form. It can used in preparing many savory dishes.

image source: medicalnewstoday
  1. Chilli peppers

Chilli peppers contain a substance called capsaicin which makes them spicy. Capsaicin reduces the number of pain signals sent to your brain and can provide pain relief. It is effective on pain caused arthritis and diabetes-related nerve damage.

Studies have also shown that eating chilli pepper can help with ailments that cause internal pain like ulcers. Capsaicin helps in reducing ulcers by restricting the growth of ulcer-causing bacteria, reducing excess stomach acid and increasing blood flow.

pictures of Chilli peppers scaled
image from:

What Does Too Much Salt Do to Your Body?

Too much salt can negatively impact your body in several ways:

  1. High Blood Pressure: Excess salt can increase blood pressure, leading to hypertension.
  2. Heart Disease: High salt intake is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  3. Kidney Damage: Overconsumption of salt can strain your kidneys and lead to kidney disease.
  4. Fluid Retention: Salt can cause your body to retain water, leading to bloating and swelling.
  5. Osteoporosis: Excessive salt can result in calcium loss from bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Substitute salts with spices in your food for better health. Be creative with spices you want to add to your foods, try varieties of spices in food to see what your preferences are.

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Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer is a food enthusiast, Writer/Content Creator. Driven by passion, as the Head of content for African Food Network, she strives to curate exciting, fun, informative and functional content.

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