Flavour matching could be an effective strategy for reducing salt intake, a new study suggests1.

According to Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), £288 million from NHS budgets could be saved every year if we reduced the UK’s average salt intake by just 1g2. Reducing population salt intake has been identified as a key measure to reduce non-communicable diseases worldwide, and Member States of the World Health Organization have agreed to a global target of a 30 per cent reduction in salt intake by 20253.

The food industry has used gradual salt reduction and mineral-based salt replacers, such as magnesium sulphate, in an attempt to reduce salt in processed foods. However some research has found that salt can only be reduced by around half before products are deemed unpalatable, and some salt substitutes leave undesirable aftertastes.

The University of Reading found that using herbs and spices to complement flavours could be an effective way to improve the taste of low-salt foods. Herbs and spices were found to be effective salt replacers – not because they mimic saltiness, but because they make saltiness a less important component of flavour. Flavour matching could be a useful tool in helping the industry meet global reduction targets, as well as for individuals wanting to reduce their salt intake, without compromising on flavour.

Tips for slashing salt

Encourage patients to lower their salt intake with our handy flavour matching tips:

  • Season eggs with a pinch paprika instead of salt
  • Flavour white fish with dill, parsley of fennel
  • Complement chicken dishes with thyme
  • Liven up greens with a sprig of mint or a touch of chilli
  • Perk up potatoes with parsley, rosemary or turmeric

Encourage patients and clients to eat less salt with our practical resources

Wheel of Flavour

Our interactive flavour-matching tool will help patients find the right herbs and spices to complement their food instead of relying on salt. Order the Wheel of Flavour from our eShop today.

Salt Swap cards

Use our Salt Swap cards to show patients and clients how a few small changes to their meals could make a big difference to the amount of salt in their diets.


All our recipes are developed by nutritionists. Find low-salt meal ideas to share with patients and clients in our recipes section.

Published in Spring 2015 issue


  1. S Khalil Ghawi et al. Enhancing consumer liking of low salt tomato soup over repeated exposure by herb and spice seasonings. Appetite 81. 2014;20-29
  2. Consensus Action on Salt and Health. Useful Salt Facts, 2014.
  3. World Health Organization. Population sodium reduction strategies, 2014.