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Is Salt Our Friend or Foe?

Some praise salt as good for our health, while others demonize it. So in the end, who is correct? Consider this while making your decision.

salt_types_pink_black_white_spices_sea_crystal_spoons_picWhen most Americans hear the world “salt” in regard to health, they automatically tend to think “bad.” We have been taught for years now that we need to keep our salt consumption low and be aware of the amount we eat on a daily basis, especially if we’re looking to keep our blood pressure in a healthy range. But, like many other foods, not all salt is created the same. Therefore, not all salt is going to have the same effects on our bodies.

The Salt of the Nation

Let’s begin by taking a look at the salt we typically think of: the kind on top of the majority of our tables, as well as in essentially all processed foods and restaurant dishes. This is the traditional white table salt we are all familiar with, technically called sodium chloride. Because this is the primary salt used in our country today, the blanket term “salt” is used. When we hear or read information discussing the harmful effects of salt, it is referring to sodium chloride.

The sodium chloride form is the one we need to be aware of and work to minimize or eliminate out of our diets. It’s a highly processed form of salt that provides no nutritional quality or value to our bodies. In fact, sodium chloride can be so detrimental to our health that The Center For Science in the Public Interest is seeking to have the FDA regulate its use. Sodium chloride, or processed salt, is not only devoid of minerals the body needs, but it also has additives that are harmful when ingested.

Table salt is made by taking a natural salt and cooking it at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. At such an extreme processing temperature, the salt loses the majority, if not the entirety, of the important elements, including many minerals, that would otherwise make salt healthy to the body.

The Effects of Table Salt

While sodium chloride is found in the body and is necessary, it is best to get it from naturally occurring whole foods such as nuts and seeds, vegetables, and seafood. The processed form coming from table salt, also coupled with the large doses most table_salt_refined_processed_table_white_picconsume, is what should be avoided.

First, sodium chloride (from processed table salt) negatively affects our blood pressure. A high blood pressure can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. This salt causes blood pressure to rise because the blood is trying to quickly move the highly processed, toxic elements away from the heart.

Second, table salt can also cause the body to retain water and other fluids and can aggravate conditions like diabetes, gout, and obesity. It is also very hard on the nervous and circulatory systems of the body and destroys the sensitive balance of the lymph system in the body.

The Different Faces of Salt

Processed table salt is only one form, and it’s not the kind you’ll find in nature. The salt nature provides us is actually needed by the body to survive and has many benefits. Natural salts help the body maintain proper mineral balance, keep strong bone density, promote healthy circulation, and stabilize blood sugar levels. In the end, it’s an element needed by every cell of the body. In order to see these benefits though, the proper source of salt needs to be consumed.

These natural salts are typically dried in the sun and aren’t exposed to the extreme heat that table salt is, allowing it to maintain its naturally occurring elements. These natural salts are alkaline minerals that help the body stay hydrated, balance the sodium to potassium rations, help make digestive enzymes, and provide powerful electrolytes, including trace minerals that support the immune system and thyroid and adrenal function.

Natural Salts

Here are some natural salt alternatives that aren’t processed like traditional table salt, so they will contain nature’s minerals and other necessary constituents.

Redmond’s Real Salt:
  • himalayan_crystal_salt_healthy_minerals_spoon_bowl_wood_picHarvested from an ancient sea bed in the United States
  • Contains more than sixty trace minerals
  • Unprocessed
  • No additives or anti-flaking chemicals
  • Not bleached
Pink Himalayan Salt:
  • Harvested from 17 different ancient sea bed sites in Pakistan (can therefore make for some variability in quality and processing techniques)
  • Full spectrum of minerals
  • Unprocessed
  • Not bleached
  • No additives or anti-flaking chemicals
Celtic Sea Salt:
  • salt_three_types_pink_black_white_spoon_picHarvested from the current ocean (because of this, however, may contain some contaminants due to current environmental toxins)
  • Unprocessed
  • Contains several trace minerals
  • Not bleached
  • No additives or anti-flaking chemicals

To conclude, salt can be a regular part of a healthy diet and lifestyle when the unprocessed, natural forms are used.

Know what tastes good with salt? Caramel! Give these vegan, gluten free, salted caramel waffles a try!

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