• Sodium is an essential nutrient for health. It regulates the total amount of water in the body and
• Sodium is an essential nutrient for health. It regulates the total amount of water in the body and is critical in generating electrical signals that power communication between the brain, nervous system, and muscles.
• Too much or too little sodium therefore can cause cells to malfunction, and extremes in the blood sodium levels (too much or too little) can be fatal.
Let me say right up front that I love salt and believe that food tastes better with salt. As an adult I’d get fat eating food with savory and salty profiles before I would from eating ice cream or cakes. Wine is my sweet of choice and just happens to compliment a bit of meat of fish sprinkled liberally with chunks of Himalayan sea salt.
Whether sea, macrobiotic, or table, any salt is basically sodium chloride.
The difference occurs in the processing (or lack of) and like most other processed foods, table salt comes with some health risks.
First it is heated to break the molecular structure, then stripped of all “impurities,” such as naturally occurring minerals. Salt refiners take this now “pure” product and add aluminum compounds to help keep it dry and pourable. Potassium iodide replaces the naturally occurring iodine salts, and according to Sally Fallon, “in order to stabilize the volatile iodide compound, processors use dextrose which turns the iodized salt a purplish color. A bleaching agent is then necessary to restore whiteness to the salt.”
Mmm mmm good.
How do we get to high blood pressure and other maladies associated with salt intake? According to the American Heart Association, salt added at the table accounts for only 5% - 10% of our daily intakes.
Processed foods, fast foods, and most restaurant foods are what’s doing people in. The rest of the 1500 to 2300 recommended daily milligrams shows up in bread, processed cheese, happy meals and Lean Cuisine, tomato sauce, lunch at Panera — even cereal if you are still eating it, has sodium.
Tip: Chicken is the worst offender in the fast food world for sodium content.
Due to the brilliant scientists on staff at the major food manufacturers, more salt than you could ever add in by hand is neatly woven in with other flavors — sugar for one — so foods stay fresh longer and pretty much addict your taste buds from day one. If you ever want the inside scoop on how nefarious this science experiment is, please read The End Of Overeating by Dr. David. A. Kessler. It’s mind-blowing how precise the science is of getting us to adapt to ever-increasing salty and sweet tastes — thereby wanting to eat more which means we have to purchase more.
But I digress.
There is no debating that a diet high in processed foods will compromise your heart health and cause bones to lose calcium as a way to balance this overload sodium.
Debate point. It has been pointed out that some people and populations need more added salt than others. If you eat a sea plants or fish-based diet you will get more naturally occurring salt, and therefore need less than someone who lives inland and eats less.
People who eat more raw foods get more enzymatic activity from their foods. This not only promotes health but it aids in digestion. Those who cook most of their foods will likely need some added salt to participate in the activation of digestive enzymes.
What about the flavor salt adds? Most of us like some salt on our food. Ask anyone who has had their salt restricted by their physician for health reasons and they’ll tell you how bland some foods are without it. I’m not going to tell anyone to ignore his or her doctor’s recommendation. I am going to suggest that if you prepare clean, healthy foods, in a way that keeps them healthy — steamed, broiled, pan seared, not fried — and you sprinkle on some small chunks of let’s say, my current favorite, Hawaiian Pink Jurassic salt, I’ll bet your blood pressure will not increase. If you live on mostly cooked foods you stand to benefit from some sea salt.
There are some people who are extremely salt-sensitive, this is not a recommendation for you. (In this case something else is out of balance but that’s another conversation.)
When using sea salts, add them to the foods right as they come out of the pan. This will preserve the mineral content, and the odd grain of sea-tasting salt on a bite of food is an experience.
Bottom line: sea salt contains necessary minerals, enhances the flavor of foods, and is not going to put anyone in an early grave.
Throw away your table salt — and if the sea salt you are buying is pure white, buyer beware, all of the naturally occurring minerals have been stripped out.