Salt can be a controversial subject for those who are taking care of our health. It gets a bad rap most of the time. Doctors tell us to avoid it, and some of us listen. However, what those doctors usually don’t mention is that there is a big difference between regular old table salt and sea salt.
But before looking more closely at salt, it’s important to understand why salt is a necessary part of our diet.
• Salt provides sodium, which is necessary for life.
• It helps with muscle contraction and expansion, nerve stimulation, the proper functioning of the adrenals, and other biological processes, as well.
• Salt also provides chloride, which helps produce acids necessary to digest protein and enzymes for carbohydrate digestion, and is necessary for proper brain functioning and growth.
• Salt contains magnesium, which is important for producing enzymes, nerve transmission, bone formation, forming tooth enamel, and resistance to heart disease, and it also contains many other trace minerals. Babies and children are in special need of salt for their developing brains.
Excessive salt can certainly cause health problems, but it’s important to realize that we need salt in our diets. Some people need more than others and some need less, but we all need it.
Regular table salt and sea salt – what’s the difference?
For starters, table salt is highly refined.
• It goes through a process that removes the magnesium and trace minerals.
• In order to keep the salt dried out, various additives are included, such as aluminum compounds.
• The natural iodine is also destroyed during the refining process, so it is usually added back in the form of potassium iodide.
• Dextrose is added as a stabilizer, which affects the color, and so a bleaching agent is used to finish it off.
In contrast, a good quality sea salt is sun dried. It will still contain microscopic amounts of sea life, which provides natural iodine. It will be gray in color and even slightly moist. This means there is a large mineral content. I really like Celtic sea salt. Red sea salt from the shores of Hawaii is another great option.
Sea salt has a much stronger flavor than table salt, so you don’t need to use as much. The kind I use is pretty coarse, so I put it in a salt grinder. This is not the same as a pepper grinder – a pepper grinder has steel blades for hard peppercorns, while a salt grinder has ceramic blades that resist salt’s naturally corrosive properties. I dry the salt out very gently in my toaster oven on low before putting it in the salt grinder, so that it will pass easily through the blades.
If you are going to purchase canned or processed foods, look for those without added salt. Unless the item is organic, it usually won’t contain sea salt, but rather the highly refined form of salt – and often in very large quantities. You can always salt the food yourself with sea salt; it will taste better and be better for you.
Have you discovered the beauty of sea salt? Do you have other things to add about the importance of salt? Have you experienced any health benefits after switching to sea salt?