In ancient times, salt was a highly prized product. It was even used as currency the word ‘salary’ is derived from it, as is the word ‘salad’. There is so much conflicting research out there about salt. On the one hand, you’ve probably heard that salt is ‘bad’ that it can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. On the other hand, you may have heard that salt is absolutely necessary for keeping our bodies functioning properly.
So which is true? And should we really avoid salt at all costs?
Salt, in its natural, unrefined form, can actually be a fantastic health product. It contains over eighty elements and minerals that are essential to life, including iodine, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. However, salt in its refined, processed form the white stuff commonly known as table salt is not so great.
Table salt: what it really is Table salt is the stuff we find on most supermarket shelves and in most processed foods. It is nothing more than sodium chloride a chemically manufactured form of salt. The manufacturing process strips out all the precious minerals that salt contains in its natural state. These minerals are usually sold separately for use in other industries, such as agriculture or the pharmaceutical industry. That’s one of the reasons unrefined salt is such a highly prized product.
After processing, other chemicals such as anti-caking agents may be added to table salt to keep it from clumping together and extend its shelf life. The product we’re eventually left with has zero health beneiits.
Table salt is not easy on the body and does so much more harm than good. It can disturb the fine balance of many body processes and of our body fiuids, and it can contribute to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney problems, osteoporosis and impaired muscle and nerve function. Moreover, it is highly addictive.
Unrefined salt is a complete package of wonderful mineralg. For this reason, it can be very useful for our bodies. For example, the magnesium, potassium and calcium that it contains are known to have an anti-hypertensive effect.So, used in moderation, unrefined salt may actually help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, instead of increasing it, like table salt does. (When I say use in moderation, I mean: stick to the guidelines given in a recipe and don’t use the salt shaker afterwards to add more. Always taste your food before putting any extra salt on it, and only do so if strictly necessary. Wean yourself off salt gradually and retrain your tastebuds to like the taste of the actual food, not the extra salt.)
Unreiined salt isn’t usually sparkly White like table salt. Depending on the type, it comes in a variety of shades such as pink, grey, blue, red and even black. In fact, the Whiter the salt, the less healthy and more processed it usually is. Examples of healthy, mineral-rich, colourful, unrefined salts are: pink Himalayan crystal salt, Celtic sea salt, Guérande or flew de sel and Persian blue salt, or the healthier White varieties Maldon Sea Salt and Halen M611Most of these are available online, in health stores and even in some supermarkets.