Salt

 

Gandhi salt March

Gandhi’s salt March 1930

 

What is Salt? – Salt, is a mineral that is composed primarily of Sodium Chloride, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. It is essential for human life in small quantities, but is harmful in excess. Salt is one of the oldest, most ubiquitous food seasonings and salting is an important method of food preservation. Salting is used because most Bacteria, fungi and other organisms cannot survive in a highly salty environment, due to the hypertonic nature of salt. Any living cell in such an environment will become dehydrated through osmosis and die or become temporarily inactivated.

Salt is involved in regulating the water content (fluid balance) of the body. The sodium ion itself is used for electrical signaling in the nervous system. However, too much salt increases the risk of health problems, including high blood pressure. Therefore health authorities have recommended limitations of dietary sodium. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that individuals consume no more than 1500–2300 mg of sodium (3750–5750 mg of salt) per day depending on age.

 

There is an extremely wide variety of salt as it comes from different geographic regions and refined in numerous ways. Salt comes in 3 forms: Unrefined(sea salt), Refined, Iodized salt.

 

Unrefined Salt: Unrefined sea salt is often thought to be better than table salt, as table salt lacks many of the beneficial minerals found in unrefined sea salt, including magnesium, iodine, and over 21 essential and 30 accessory minerals essential to our health. All three electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and calcium) are available in unrefined salt. Table salt loses these minerals and electrolytes during the refining process, then usually has iodine put back in (along with some unhealthy additives, including sugar). Celtic sea salt is unrefined sun dried ocean salt. This is unheated made in old traditional way. Hand harvested, stone ground sea salt from the environmentally protected Isle of Noirmoutier, Brittany, France. Prepared using 1,500 year old ancient Celtic methods and no chemical processing aids. Malden sea salt in another excellent choice, hand harvested from UK. These salts have smooth, savory flavor, is rich in minerals, no bleach, talcum or silica. Fleur de sel is an especially valued type of French hand-harvested sea salt.

I heard other sea salts like New- zealand sea salt,Sicilian sea salt,Maine Natural Sea Salt are also good. Most of the other sea salts available in the market made from the surface of evaporating brine in salt pans, or by bamboo roasting, some of these sea salts are treated with chemicals to precipitate magnesium and calcium.

 

 

Refined Salt: is the by-product of the processing of earth salt after valuable minerals have been extracted for sale to industry. This salt is heated to over 2,000 degrees while refining. This excessive heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt. It is bleached; talcum, silica and several anti-caking chemicals are added to improve the ability of the table salt to pour. This salt is not good for the body. Iodized salt: is refined table salt mixed with a minute amount of potassium iodide, sodium iodide, or sodium iodate. Iodized salt is used to help reduce the incidence of iodine deficiency in humans. Iodine deficiency commonly leads to thyroid gland problems, specifically endemic goiter, a disease characterized by a swelling of the thyroid gland, usually resulting in a bulbous protrusion on the neck.

 

To add iodine to your diet, I recommend incorporating sea-vegetables and using unrefined sea salt rather than iodized refined salt which has many chemicals in it. The best option to get micronutrients like iodine in your diet is incorporating seaweed or sea-vegetable which contains plenty of minerals in them.

Kosher salt: kosher salt typically contains no additives. Like table salt it consists of the chemical compound sodium chloride.

Some condiments with high salt content: Soy sauce, fish sauce, Oyster sauce. Consider avoiding these if you are on salt restricted diet.

Salt substitutes

Salt intake can be reduced by simply reducing the quantity of salty foods in a diet, without recourse to salt substitutes. Salt substitutes have a taste similar to table salt and contain mostly potassium chloride, which will increase potassium intake. Excess potassium intake can cause hyperkalemia. Various diseases and medications may decrease the body’s excretion of potassium, thereby increasing the risk of hyperkalemia. Those who have kidney failure, heart failure or diabetes should seek medical advice before using a salt substitute. You may try Gomasio to get more flavor and eat less salt.

 

My Recommendation:

  • Do not add any table salt, use little rock salt or hand harvested sea salt in cooking if necessary.Your taste buds will adjust to having less salt if you gradually cut down. I grind coarse sea salt to the fineness I desire in a small coffee-grinder.
  • Do not use salt substitutes. You may use Bragg’s liquid aminos, lemon juice,fresh or dried herbs or spices to flavor food.
  • You don’t have to use iodized salt If you have other source of dietary iodine. Add small amount of seaweed in your daily diet(seaweed is rich in calcium, magnesium, iodine and many more). Only tiny quantity(about 150 micrograms) of iodine is required in the diet to prevent goiter.
  • Avoid salty condiments, canned or frozen food, salty snacks and restaurant meals.
  • Please check this link to find out sodium content of some common foods.

 

Resources:

Salt and Sodium

Sodium

Salt

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