Welcome back for step two! As I said last week, knowing where to start with wholefoods or getting back to real food leaves many people confused and overwhelmed. I really want to help lessen that feeling through this series. One small step at a time is the best way for lasting change.
Today we're looking at salt. Poor old salt. It gets a bad rap, blamed for raising blood pressure and causing strokes and heart attacks. Who would eat it?! Oh but it tastes so good.
Well, if we delve a little deeper you'll discover not all salt is created equal and if you are going to add salt to your food there are some better choices you can make than table salt.
Before we get into the details let's consider that salt is one of the basic five tastes and that it plays an important role in how the human body functions. Salt is made up of the compounds sodium and chloride. Sodium chloride plays a role in fluid regulation, muscle contraction, pH balance and digestion. Our bodies cannot make salt on their own, we rely on getting salt from the food we eat.
I'm not an expert in that I'm not a doctor, dietician or nutritionist, but the problem with salt as I see it is the quality and quantity consumed (consult a practitioner if you are wondering about your salt intake). Real unprocessed salt in and of itself is not the problem, the problem is that refined salt is a dominant ingredient in many processed foods from breakfast cereals to deli meats. So, if the majority of the food you eat comes from packets your refined salt intake is already high and then if you are adding salt at the table overload is on the cards. This adds up to excess salt consumption coupled with the additives found in table salt. Who wants to eat aluminium? No thanks.
Different forms of salt explained
The luminous white powdery stuff referred to as table salt is a highly refined version of the mineral that originally came from the earth. The problem with this kind of salt is that through processing it is stripped of its naturally present trace minerals and is often mixed with anti-caking agent (some of which contain aluminium). Table salt is also fortified with iodine, iodine is essential for good hormone health and vitally important in pregnancy for the development of healthy babies. You can read more about iodine on Cyndi O'Meara's site. Seaweed is a good source of iodine, but like everything it is important to get the balance right for your individual body.
Sea salt can vary in colour from white to grey to pink, depending on where it is harvested. Sea salt is unprocessed, hand-harvested and free of additives. Some sea salts are moist others are dry.
The label on the Macrobiotic Sea Salt pictured above reads:
..."It is dried only by the hot summer sun and wind. It is harvested in late summer by salt farmers who delicately gather the salt from the marshes with wooden hand tools. This salt is unrefined, unwashed and free of flowing agents and additives. Because this salt is only sun dried it retains the ocean's moisture, which helps lock in many naturally occurring trace elements"
Himalayan salt is mined in the Khewra Salt mines in Pakistan and is celebrated for being unprocessed, having 84 trace elements and additive free.
Table Salt, Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt are all forms of sodium chloride so need to be used mindfully, however it is the fact that Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt are unprocessed and additive free that sets them apart from table salt.
Another difference is the flavour. Once you stop eating table salt your taste buds adjust and flavours become heightened. To my taste, table salt is harsh.
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or confused about deciding what to eat, think about your where the food you are going to eat comes from:
Would you prefer salt of the earth or salt of the factory?
And as with all foods, don't fool yourself into thinking that because something is natural or real that you can eat as much of it as you want. For me the practice of being truthful with myself about what agrees with my body is as important as the actual food.
Do you use salt? What kind? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.