With so much processed foods available to us, it’s no wonder salt has been given a bad name.
It’s in just about every packaged food, from canned goods to frozen dinners to boxed goods to yes, bags of chips. I feel like I need to come to the rescue of salt and give you some good reasons to consume it (in the best way possible).
The salt of the typical standard American diet (SAD) is processed with bleaches, sterilized at high temperatures, and mixed with additives like aluminum-containing salts, iodine, silicon dioxide, and sugar. This gives it the same consistency of pour, the same size grain, no caking, and its bright white color. Everything we’ve come to expect out of salt.
Except all of the nutritional value is missing.
Refined salt is stripped of valuable micro-nutrients that bring tremendous value to our health. However, analysis of unrefined sea salt reveals that there are 80-plus naturally-occurring trace elements that support overall health. The grey, pink, or light-brown colors of natural salt and the variation in size of grain are indicators that you’re getting a lesser-refined, more nutrient-dense version.
The over-processing of salt is not the only problem. With the advent of convenience foods that are already heavily salted, and with fewer people preparing home cooked meals with whole foods, self-salting is happening less often. We actually salt less when we season our own to our food, and we can control what type of salt we use this way, too.
We also have the problem of an imbalance of our sodium/potassium ratio. Historically, people eating more homemade meals with fresh vegetables and fruits consumed higher levels of potassium. And with self-salting, the sodium levels were lower. There was more of a balance of these two important electrolytes. Again, with the SAD and more people eating processed food, our potassium consumption has dropped drastically and our sodium levels have skyrocketed. Hypertension can be a result of this imbalance.
So what can we do to enjoy this essential “spice” of life and optimize our health at the same time?
*Cook more meals from scratch. This way you can control how much and what type of salt you add to your food.
*Use unrefined salt rather than the conventional grocery-store white salt. Himalayan pink salt, RealSalt, Celtic Sea Salt, Brittany Sea Salt (including Fleur de Sel), and Sea Star are all high grade salts that have been mined the in the traditional manner for ages.
*Try different grain sizes for different foods. A larger grain might be better for sprinkling on top of freshly cooked vegetables while finely ground grains work better for baking.
*Many natural salts, especially sea salts, contain iodine, but not as much as the iodine-enriched over-processed salts. The good news is that you can consume iodine in other whole foods, such as eggs, shrimp, cod, dairy, sea vegetables, tuna, and prunes. A little bit goes a long way to ensuring thyroid health.
*Natural salts work well with hand-held grinders. It’s easier to control the quantity of salts this way as opposed to the traditional shakers.
*Natural salts are beautiful to the eye and add another dimension to the sensory enjoyment of your food. Each type of salt tastes subtly different, as well, so experiment to find which ones you like best.
We don’t have to give up our love of salt. We just need to consume the highest-quality with the best food we prepare ourselves.