Let's talk Salt
Conflicting research shows us that salt is bad, contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease and fluid retention, or, that salt is an absolute necessity to keep certain body processes functioning properly.
So which is true?
The truth is that salt, in its natural, unrefined form can be a fantastically healthy addition to your diet. Salt in its refined, processed form however, such as table salt, is very unhealthy and has very little resemblance to what real salt is supposed to be like.
Table salt is nothing more than Sodium Chloride, a chemically manufactured form of salt stripped bare of all the amazing minerals found in unrefined salt. Natural, unrefined salt is essential for life. Table salt is not. Unrefined salt contains over 80 essential elements for good health (think Iodine, Magnesium, Calcium Iron & Boron to name a few). Table salt contains two (Sodium and Chloride)
The white chemical substance called table salt
Unfortunately salt 'manufacturers' strip natural salt bare of its precious minerals, usually in order to be sold seperately for use in other industries, such as agriculture or pharmaceuticals. End consumers are then left with nothing more than a white chemical substance to flavour our foods. To this already unnatural substance chemicals such as anti-caking agents may be added to keep the salt from going lumpy and inconveniently blocking our salt shakers. Iodine, which was initially removed, is often added back in.to prevent people from getting an Iodine deficiency. .
Table salt is not easy on the body. Quite the opposite. It dehydrates us, can constribute to water retention, high blood pressure and can disturb the fine balance of many other bodily processes such as your heart and kidney function (1). So, to answer our original question whether salt is good or bad for us, we can conclude that salt in its refined form is very harmful indeed.
Salt & cocaine. All the same to the brain
The taste of refined salt is highly addictive. Cravings for salt and salt addictions can stimulate the same neural pathways as addictions to cocaine and other opiates (2). It's an ancient instinct to crave salt. We require a little of it every day to stay healthy. But the more of it we consume on a daily basis, the more addicited we become until our intake no longer balances, but severely imbalances our brain and body.
Refined salt is found in excessive amounts in most processed foods. So by tucking into your store-bought sandwich or bag if crisps you constantly fuel this addiction.
Health benefits of natural unrefined salt
Changing from a refined to an unrefined from of salt (see examples below) does not mean you can or should have more of it. But using it in moderation to flavour your meals in conjunction with herbs and spices, instead of using refined salt can have many beneficial health effect . Unrefined forms of rock salt for example may help to reduce high blood pressure, rehydrate the body properly and decrease water retention. And all the minerals still contained within this type of salt can support your overal health in a balanced manner, just like mother nature intended.
The most important thing though is to start checking the labels of all the processed food you eat. We should consume no more than a maximum of 6g of salt per day (preferably less). This is about a teaspoon full. Some food labes calculate in levels of 'Sodium'. We should have no more than 2.4 g of Sodium a day. Start by checking your breakfast cereals, sandwiches, soups, and ready-meals and see how much your daily intake adds up to. You may find that just one TV dinner already provides you with half your daily allowed intake! So ditch your processed foods and start cooking from fresh, with natural, unrefined salt.
For the price of a pint of beer..
The good thing about natural, unrefined salt is that it really is not that expensive. Yes, it may be a few pounds more than your average bag of table salt but don't forget that a bag of salt lasts a long time. So it is a wellworthy investment that shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. A pint of your favourite beer may last you an hour...however, for the same price (or even less) you can buy a bag of excellent quality unrefined salt, which will last you several months if not more!
Examples of healthy mineral rich unrefined salts are:
Pink Himalayan crystal salt
Celtic sea salt
Guerande or fleur de sel
Persian blue salt.
So please, take one easy healthy step today and bin your table salt once and for all. Your body will be grateful!
(1) Krezesinski JM, Sodium and arterial hypertension --one hundred years of controversies. Bull Mem Acad R Med Belg. 2009;164(3-4):143-55; discussion 155-7.
(2) Wolfgang B. Liedtke, Michael J. Mckinley, Lesley L. Walker, Hao Zhang, Andreas R. Pfenning, John Drago, Sarah J. Hochendoner, Donald L. Hilton, Andrew J. Lawrence, Derek A. Denton. Relation of addiction genes to hypothalamic gene changes subserving genesis and gratification of a classic instinct, sodium appetite. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI:
Pink Himalayan Rock Salt
Celtic Sea Salt