Two people cooking.

Research shows that people consume about 50 percent more sodium every day, on average, than the maximum amount they should (2,300 mg). That’s cause for concern, because surging sodium in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure and potentially harm your heart. A majority of sodium in our diets comes from packaged foods and restaurant dishes. But changing your seasoning habits while cooking or at the table can make a difference.

If everyone cut their sodium intake by just 400 mg per day—the amount in less than one-quarter teaspoon of table salt—it could prevent an estimated 32,000 heart attacks and 20,000 strokes per year, according to one study. But skipping the salt shaker doesn’t doom you to bland meals. By adding these no-salt seasonings, you’ll enjoy a tasty, healthier dish.

Herbs (fresh or dried). Herbs supply vitamins and minerals, though they’re not typically eaten in quantities that have much effect on your daily intake. A tablespoon of dried chervil, for example, has 26 milligrams of calcium and 90 milligrams of potassium. A quarter-cup of fresh parsley supplies a quarter of your daily need for vitamin C and 25 percent for vitamin A. “Herbs boost the flavors on your plate, so you may not even miss the salt,” says Ellen Klosz, a CR nutritionist. And tossing a handful of fresh herbs (try basil or parsley) into a salad along with the greens means you can use less salty salad dressing.

More On Healthy Cooking

Hot sauce. A recent study found that spicy-food lovers ate about a half-teaspoon less of salt per day than people who didn’t like spicy foods, and they had lower blood pressure. “Hot sauces provide a different taste profile to your food, and because many contain sodium, you don’t have to add salt,” Klosz says. But choose carefully. A teaspoon of Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce has 190 milligrams of sodium, for example. Stick to low- or no-sodium sauces, such as Trader Joe’s Chili Pepper Sauce, which has 0 mg of sodium.

Lemon and lime. Acidic flavors can also perk up a dish. “Lemon or lime juice brightens the flavor of food, so you perceive it as being tastier,” Klosz explains. You can use these zesty citrus flavors while you’re cooking and/or once your meal is cooked. Try a squeeze of either fruit over fish, chicken, whole grains, or vegetables.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

5 Tips to Change the Way You Eat

Does your diet need an overhaul? On the 'Consumer 101' TV show, Consumer Reports’ expert Paul Hope offers host Jack Rico 5 healthy eating tips.