Too much salt in the diet can be harmful to health. But there are alternatives – probably even more than most people think.
Without salt, many meals taste bland. We use it not only because of its salty flavor, but also because it brings out the flavor of many foods. Probably also therefore too much of it often ends up on the plate: the average person consumes about 9 grams of salt per day – far above the recommendation of about six grams.
What is salt actually?
In the chemical sense, salts are compounds that are composed of positively charged cations and negatively charged anions. The table salt or common salt used for nutrition is therefore a compound of (positively charged) sodium and (negatively charged) chloride. Therefore, table salt is also called sodium chloride (NaCl). There are also numerous other types of salt, e.g. those used in industry.
Table salt is one of the essential, i.e. vital minerals. It is mostly extracted from the sea (sea salt) and from salt mines (rock salt). Sea or rock salt can contain other minerals and trace elements such as potassium or magnesium in addition to sodium and chloride. When processed into commercial table salt, most of these other substances are removed from the salt, leaving pure sodium chloride.
This excessive consumption can damage health, especially the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes is increasing. There are nevertheless numerous alternatives, with which the salt consumption can be reduced – and the meal tastes similar delicious.
The leek is considered an excellent substitute for salt. It does not go with all dishes, but with almost everything that has to do with Mediterranean cuisine. Garlic is also good in marinades, all kinds of salads, soups or stews. And it is also healthy, whether fresh or in powder form. It lowers blood pressure and is said to strengthen the immune system.
Lemon juice or zest
The acidity of the lemon can emphasize and bring out the inherent flavor of dishes similar to salt. The zests, i.e. the fine stripes from the peel, add a fruity note. This tastes particularly good in salads, cooked vegetables and marinades, but also works well with fish and meat. However, organic lemons are a must when using the peel.
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt and pepper are the spice duo par excellence, but if you want to reduce the salt, just try increasing the pepper content. This goes well with soups, grilled dishes and pasta.
The fresh, strong taste of dill can also make you forget the salt. It is especially good with fish dishes, potatoes and cucumbers. It tastes perfect in combination with lemon juice.
Dried onions or onion powder
When dried, the onion adds a strong flavor and a little sweetness to the food. This goes well with almost all hearty dishes.
Nutritional yeast, i.e. deactivated yeast in flake or powder form, is particularly popular in vegan cooking. It is a very good substitute for salt in almost all dishes (it also goes well with meat!) and it contains lots of healthy B vitamins. It is available in well-assorted health food stores.
The Italian vinegar specialty brings spice and sweetness to the food. It tastes equally good in salads, soups, fish or meat. A fruity apple vinegar is also a good alternative to balsamic vinegar.
Here too, the taste principle applies: the spiciness, pungency and sweetness of the paprika can replace at least part of the salt. This works especially well for meat dishes.
Depending on your taste preferences, you can try chili oil or truffle oil. Especially the intensive – but actually always artificially produced – truffle aroma is a good substitute for salt in pasta, pizza, vegetables and potatoes.
Rosemary, sage and tarragon
Simply increase the rosemary content and you will need much less salt for vegetables, fish, meat or soups. You can also try this with sage and tarragon. The combination of these herbs has the greatest potential and also best serves the individual taste.
For a touch of Asia: The complex pungency and sweetness of ginger is well suited as a salt substitute for meat, fish, marinades and soups.
The Asian classic spice is a good substitute for salt in almost all dishes. However, there are significant differences in quality, especially with regard to the glutamate and also the salt content in the sauce itself. An alternative to soy sauce is again the so-called coconut aminos, also a sweet-salty spice sauce made from the sap of the coconut palm, which is enjoying growing popularity.
Coriander is not to everyone’s taste. But the strong, lemony aroma is a good substitute for salt in sauces, soups and especially curries.
If you like hotness, you should increase the chili portion as you like and you will hardly miss the salt.
Besides its sweetness and spiciness, cinnamon has a peppery pungency that goes especially well with poultry, beans and lentils.
As you can see: There are enough alternatives to salt. Especially the combination of different salt alternatives offers a lot of interesting taste experiences, which the palate gets used to with pleasure. On the Internet, you can already find a lot of recipes for low-salt or salt-free cooking that have proven their worth on the popular portals.