It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to email@example.com and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Since I have high blood pressure one of my major concerns is salt content. Some recipes (like eggplant parmesan) call for salting items like eggplant, zucchini, and cucumber to either cut down on bitterness or excess water.
I have usually skipped the salting because I am concerned that it significantly increases the sodium content of the recipe, even if the salt is rinsed off the vegetable after the soaking. Does covering the vegetables in salt result in significant absorption of sodium? If it does, are there alternative methods that will achieve the same goals?
I almost never salt eggplant (or other vegetables, for that matter) in the way you describe. There are two suggested reasons for doing this. One is to remove moisture and the other bitterness. My experience is that moisture is fine for eggplant and helps keep it tender.
The eggplant grown today has had the bitterness bred out of it. I have only found eggplant to be bitter when it is not fresh, so the key is to use only very fresh eggplant. In choosing eggplant, make sure that the skin is smooth and shiny. As eggplant ages, the skin will develop small pits. Leave those and any that have wrinkled skin in the produce bin. The other key to the best tasting eggplant is to choose smaller ones - those under a pound each.
Here's more information on eggplant to help you choose the best eggplant for your recipes.
Thanks for writing.
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP