To Salt or Not to Salt: Navigating Healthy Summer Cooking

Meats and vegetables on a backyard grill

Outdoor grilling doesn’t have to mean excessive salt intake. Here’s a look at some flavorful ideas for healthier summer eating.

Key takeaways: 

  • Salt adds flavor and texture, helps break down proteins in meat, keeps vegetables crunchy, and enhances sweetness in baked goods.
  • Too much salt can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and stomach cancer. 
  • Tips for reducing salt intake without sacrificing flavor:
    • Use other spices and herbs.
    • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Avoid the American Heart Association’s “Salty Six.”
    • Keep track of your sodium intake. 

One key to quality summer cooking is seasoning, and salt, when used properly and in moderation, can be the seasoning star of your grill. But when Americans consume about 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, the equivalent of 3,400 mg or almost 1,000 mg more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg, it might be time to seek out alternative seasonings to add flavor to your summer dishes. 

While salt can be a tasty way to season your summer meats and vegetables and enhance the sweetness of baked goods, an excessive amount contributes to high blood pressure, which in turn leads to a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. So have a heart-smart summer this year by using salt judiciously while also exploring healthier alternatives that don’t skimp on flavor. 

To salt in summer cooking

Using salt in summer cooking gives dishes depth, dimension, character, and flavor. Salt influences the texture, pliability, and fragrance of a meal. Adding salt in moderation can create a perfectly balanced bite, suppressing bitter flavors while also enhancing sweet notes. 

Of course, salt does more than just enhance flavor. Salt helps brine meat, breaking down tough proteins while retaining flavor and moisture. Also, don’t forget to add the pinch of salt that’s recommended in your summer baking. When salt is added to baked goods, it enhances sweetness and controls the excess fermentation of bacteria and yeast. 

In general, sprinkling salt from your fingers from a higher height and not from a spoon or shaker ensures an even distribution of seasoning. And remember, if your recipe calls for salty ingredients like a soy sauce-based marinade, you may not need to add any extra salt at all. Use salt sparingly and taste your dishes often to help make sure you’re not using too much. 

Not to salt 

While the culinary benefits of adding salt to your summer dishes are many, moderation is key. After all, our bodies do need some sodium, but an excessive amount can be harmful. Too much dietary salt leads to fluid retention, which can increase blood pressure. High blood pressure is the first domino that triggers a number of increased risks for potential health problems, including heart attack and stroke. 

Too much sodium also puts a strain on the kidneys, making them work harder. It is the kidneys’ job to filter sodium out of the body and into the urine, and if they can’t get rid of enough sodium, it stays in the blood, which leads to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Excessive sodium also causes calcium loss, which may contribute to osteoporosis. 

Scientists also believe that overconsuming foods that use preservation processes such as drying, smoking, salting, or pickling leads to an increased risk of stomach cancer. Too much salt damages the lining of the stomach, which causes lesions. When stomach lesions aren’t treated, they can become cancerous. 

Tips for reducing salt intake without sacrificing flavor

Salt in moderation can be a good addition to a summer dish, but there are plenty of ways to lower your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor. 

  • Use herbs and other spices to flavor summer recipes. Herbs like fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme and spices like turmeric and paprika can boost any recipe’s flavor profile. 
  • Make your meals at home. Need an excuse to do even more summer grilling? By making meals at home, you can completely control the amount of salt they contain. Dishes have layers of flavor, so it’s best to salt and taste throughout the cooking process. Not just at the end. 
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. In the summer, it’s easy enough to find fresh produce, but when you can’t, the next best alternative is frozen vegetables. Canned are the worst offenders when it comes to salt. If you must buy canned vegetables, rinse them well before eating. 
  • Avoid the “Salty Six.” The American Heart Association compiled a list of commonly eaten foods that add high levels of sodium to your diet: breads, pizza, sandwiches, soup, tacos, and cold cuts and cured meats. 
  • Track your sodium intake. Start documenting your sodium intake in a food journal, and when you hit the daily recommended amount for Americans (2,300 mg), cut yourself off. Make sure to read the labels of products you buy carefully, and consider trying a low-sodium alternative to reduce your consumption even more.

Let MicroSalt® help make this your healthiest summer ever

While adding salt to your summer dishes can be a great way to enhance flavor and texture, moderation is the key. Too much salt can increase your risk of serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and even possibly stomach cancer over time. 

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a healthier alternative that could help you slash your sodium consumption while still enjoying all of the salty flavors you love? There is! MicroSalt®’s revolutionary microparticles taste twice as salty so you can use half as much. Discover your new everyday salt this summer and you’ll never go back to your old sodium-heavy habits again.

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