According to David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, salt is one of the key culprits that drive overeating, along with sugar and fat. What’s more, by age 2 or 3, kids show a marked preference for salty foods, says Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit science research institute in Philadelphia.

The bottom line is Americans just eat too much sodium chloride, so public health experts are racking their brains to find ways to woo folks away from their saltshakers. One way to do this, researchers found, is to teach people how to flavor food with spices and herbs. That’s according to study findings presented at an American Heart Association scientific session earlier this year.

For the study, volunteers took part in a behavioral intervention that taught them how to use herbs and spices in recipes instead of sprinkling salt on their meals. The results? They cut their sodium intake by almost 1,000 milligrams.