By Chere Di Boscio
Salt. It’s something we eat every day, yet don’t think about much. Whilst we scrutinise fruit and vegetables for pesticides, go vegan to avoid human growth hormone and antibiotics in meat, and shun white flour for its low nutritional and high gluten content, very few of us think twice about which salt we buy. And we should.
We’re constantly told that salt is bad: it raises blood pressure, causes cardiac failure, damages kidneys and makes you bloated. But the truth is, salt can actually be really good for you – or bad for you, depending on what you buy. So which type of salt is best – or worst?
Most of us know that the human body needs a certain amount of sodium for optimal health, and we can’t live without it. In moderate amounts, unadulterated sea salts from unpolluted waters provide a hostile environment for pathogens such as bacteria and parasites. In fact, its specific toxicity to pathogenic life forms is why salt makes such an excellent preservative. What’s more, sea salt is full of nutrients. Surprise!
For example, it contains natural selenium, which helps to chelate toxic heavy metals from the body; boron, which helps prevent osteoporosis, and chromium which regulates blood sugar levels. Sea salt is one of the few sources for safe copper ingestion, and copper helps the body to form new arteries whenever the main arteries become too clogged. Although it’s added to mineral-stripped table salt, naturally-occurring iodine is present in unadulterated sea salt, which can help with iodine deficiency caused by fluoride toxicity and other factors.
But here’s what may be the biggest surprise: small quantities of sea salt will actually lower most people’s blood pressure, thanks to trace minerals that play a role in blood pressure regulation. Pink Hawaiian sea salt is rich in iron oxide and is one of the best and most nutrient-rich salts you can buy, but Celtic or French salts are other nutrient-rich sea salts.
Real sea salt should be grey or a bit pink, but some companies sell bright white salts and label them as ‘sea salt’, but all the minerals have been removed. These imposters sometimes contain anti-caking agents too, and are usually produced by the same companies that produce table salt.
You can buy real sea salt here.
Common table salts have been stripped of all minerals during processing, which manufacturers then sell to supplement companies. It’s kind of sick that salt producers are knowingly taking out what they know is the best, most nutritious part of the salt to increase profits at the expense of their customer’s health.
In fact, the lack of natural nutrients in table salt causes gross blood pressure fluctuations, instead of stabilizing it. This man-made ‘danger’ has created an entire industry of “low sodium” foods and has contributed to rising rates of obesity. How so? Obese people are nearly always malnourished, since they’re eating nutritionally dead foods, which causes them to feel starved and eat more dead foods – and processed table salts are part of the problem. Obese people have high blood pressure and are told they should eat low-sodium foods, but these often contain flavor enhancers or monosodium glutamate, a sodium-based excitotoxin that can cause heart attacks in those without enough magnesium, which you can get from organic vegetables and – you guessed it – unprocessed sea salt.
You’d never expect to see an ‘ingredients list’ on simple table salt, but despite what you may think, there’s a lot more in that package than sodium chloride. You’ll find that table salt actually contains loads of additives such as ferrocyanide, fluoride, talc, and silica aluminate, which are often included to make the salt flow. Aluminum-derived ingredients can lead to neurological disorders, especially when no selenium is provided to help the body to chelate it. Fluoride causes thyroid problems and other toxicity issues. Talc is a known carcinogen, though its effects upon ingestion have not been heavily studied. Although it’s a known carcinogen and is not permitted in foods, the FDA. has made an exception to allow talc in table salt, which can be up to 2% talc.
Flower of Salt
Often used in salted chocolate or caramel, this is a gourmet salt that forms as a thin, delicate crust on the surface of seawater as it evaporates. Also known by its French name, fleur de sel, it has been collected since ancient times, although it was traditionally used as a purgative and salve. It is now used as a finishing salt to flavor and garnish food, and is so-named due tot he flower-like patterns of crystals that form in the salt crust.
You can buy flower of salt here.
Himalayan salt is believed to be the most beneficial – and the cleanest – salt available on this planet today. It boasts many therapeutic and health properties, and tastes great! It’s also perfect for using in bath soaks and body scrubs, and you can even use to to detox.
Often pink, it can also be grey and comes from the Punjab region of Pakistan, around 190 miles from the Himalayas. The salt fields here are the oldest in the world, and date back to the Precambrian Age – that’s over 4 billion years ago when the planet was first formed! It is believed that these salts are the dried remnants of the Earth’s original primal sea.
The health benefits of this kind of salt are many, and include:
- Supports thyroid and adrenal function
- Helps overall hormone balance for men and women
- Supports a healthy and fiery metabolism
- Contains 84 trace minerals essential for your health
- Is needed to make stomach acid
- Detoxifies the body
- Balances systemic pH
- Improves hydration by providing trace minerals
- Improves mineral status of the body
- Reduces muscle cramps by improving minerals and hydration
- Helps balance blood sugar
- Helps balance blood pressure because it provides unrefined, mineral-rich salt in an ionic solution
- Improves sleep by supporting blood sugar and hormone balance
- Acts as a powerful antihistamine
- Supports weight loss by balancing hormones and improving energy
You can buy pure Himalayan salt here.
Named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, this is not actually an edible salt but is rather a pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. These are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy way to enjoy the associated health benefits, which include reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function, helping to prevent artery hardening, enhancing the absorption of nutrients, detoxing the body and relieving muscle pains and cramps. Epsom salt is even known to help relieve migraine headaches.
You can buy Epsom salt here.
This kind of salt usually has the same chemical composition as table salt, and is distinguished by its thicker, coarser grains. It’s only called ‘Kosher’ because it is used to scrape off and dry blood from animals according to Kosher Jewish tradition. It has no particularly refined taste, and has little nutritional value.
Dead Sea Salt
Dead Sea salt is very popular in the world of beauty due to the fact that it can relieve several skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a skin exfoliant, hydrator It’s full great nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese and zinc, but it also contains bromide, which is toxic when ingested.
You can buy Dead Sea salt here.
The main differences between rock salt and table salt is that the former is unrefined and the latter is heavily processed. Another difference is the size and colour – rock salt forms in large, coarse crystals, whilst table salt’s are smaller and smoother. Indeed, rock salts are so coarse, they’re often used to de-ice roads instead of in the kitchen, as it the large chunks take too long to dissolve to be useful for cooking. A final difference is where the salts are found: deposits of rock salt are usually the remains of inland seas which evaporated thousands or millions of years ago, whereas table salt comes almost exclusively from evaporation ponds, which remove salt from seawater.
Salt is essential not only to good cooking, but to good health – if the right kind is consumed, so make sure the salt you buy is the healthiest you can afford, and then enjoy it on just about everything you eat daily, from soup and salad to meat and chocolate. Your body will thank you!