How to spice up your meal without salt

Doctors say Americans consume too much salt, which could lead to a number of health problems.

Cutting down on sodium isn't easy, but there's a way to reduce your temptation to grab the salt shaker.

Grace Choi often uses hot peppers when she cooks, as a way to add interesting flavor to her favorite recipes.

"I know that regardless of whatever it is that I'm making, I know that it's going to be something delicious, because I love hot sauce and I love crushed red peppers. I love peppers really in any shape and form," Choi said.

Spicy food not only adds extra flavor to your food, but it also gives you a health boost.

A recent study published in Journal of the American Heart Association said that people who enjoyed eating spicy foods preferred less salty food and ate an estimated half-teaspoon less salt per day.

A half-teaspoon of salt has 1,150 milligrams of sodium, which is half of the 2,300 milligram daily maximum recommended by the American Heart Association.

"The researchers found that the spiciness from the hot peppers seems to activate a certain part of the brain that perceives saltiness, potentially tricking the brain into thinking that the food was saltier than it was," Consumer Reports Health Editor Julia Calderone said. "And experts think that this might be a good strategy for limiting your salt intake."

Too much sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
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