Confession time: My name is Anubha Charan, and I am an addict.
A salt addict.
Yes, I am addicted to that white stuff (also green, pink, blue, purple, black… which you discover once you fall down the salt blackhole!) on your dining table that makes everything from pretzels to pop corn taste delicious.
But it also makes you bloat up, causes water retention, leads to kidney damage, gives you high blood pressure, and thickens the arteries, when had in excess.
And I definitely have salt in excess, sprinkling it onto everything. My drink of choice is a Bloody Mary, with an extra-thick salt rim. For comfort snacking, there’s nothing better than crinkle-cut fries, liberally doused with salt. My oysters come on a bed of rock salt. I literally carry a small tin of salt everywhere, knowing most places won’t measure up to my needs. I even read books on salt and visit salt museums.
I don’t have a sweet tooth but salt is definitely my nemesis.
Then, last year, two things came together pretty serendipitously: I got diagnosed with dangerously high blood pressure (think 180+/130+) on 29th August. Which just happens to be (as Instagram informed me) something called a ‘More Herbs, Less Salt Day’.
Now, a Herb/Salt Day this sounds silly but it actually became a good time to reassess just how much salt I was putting into my body.
According to the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics AND the American Diabetes Association, we should we should be getting between 1,500-2,300 mg of sodium per day. That’s about 1 teaspoonful of salt, max!
Next, I started calculating my own daily intake… and it easily topped 3-4 teaspoons. Every single day.
Yes, time to cut down. Which led me to start experimenting with herbs as a way to add the sharp flavors I craved, sans the salt.
I won’t say it was easy. Initially, every fibre of my being resisted the deletion of extra salt from my life. But then, as my taste buds started re-adjusting (took about a month), I really started enjoying the earthy spiciness of coriander, the slightly bitter pungency of oregano, the grassiness of parsley, the coolness of mint.
I still have a little too much salt and am engrossed by the white marshes of Guérande, in France. But now there are books on herbs competing for Kindle-space as well. There are also racks of herbs – both fresh and dried – in my pantry and a dash of good quality oregano goes a long way in making those fries more delish.
And there’s an added bonus to herbs: They come with some pretty serious health benefits. They’ve made it easy to transition towards living “clean” and feeling good about myself. The fact that I am also dropping those excess pounds and my skin is getting back its glow is an added bonus!
My current favorites? Vervain for migraines (it really, really works!) and ginger for indigestion. And where do I go for more information? To these favorite tomes:
What about you? What’s been your experience with herbs? And do you love salt as much as I do?