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Su B Salt

…But the trouble is, we take much more than just a pinch.

About ten times more than we need, actually; and if you eat processed food, it’ll be a lot more, plus sugar and various additives. That doesn’t matter too much if it’s only now and then, but excess salt can lead, over time, to high blood pressure, chronic dehydration and various other problems.

So why not just cut it out? At first your food will taste very bland, but give it a couple of weeks and your palate will adjust. That’s what converts will tell you, and it’s more or less true, but humans have always valued salt for good reason. It’s a flavour enhancer, and without it, some of the sensual pleasure of eating is lost. Some foods are savoury enough, but others – particularly beans, pulses and grains – need a bit of help to make them appetising. So what can you do?

The good news is that there are lots of flavour enhancers out there.

Trials have shown that if you reduce salt and increase pepper in your cooking, people find the food just as good; and pepper is good for your digestion and your circulation. What’s more, there are many more varieties than the black pepper – Piper nigrum – we use most often. From pimento to long pepper, each has its own subtle qualities.

Garlic is another flavour enhancer, and so – in moderation – are other warming spices like chilli, mustard and horseradish. Anything that overlaps with the taste of the food you are cooking will also intensify the flavour, so if you use fennel seeds with fennel, celery seeds with celeriac and so on, you won’t need so much salt. And when you start to play with taste combinations, herbs and spices that wake up your taste buds, salt becomes a very minor player in the taste orchestra.

Have fun with flavours, and your body will thank you for it.

EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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