Sunday, 16 September 2012

Good salt and bad salt

Is there anything called good salt and bad salt? Yes. There is good and bad salt.

There was a time when salt was worth its weight in gold – literally. And quite right too. Without salt, life would cease. Your muscles would not function, your ability to think would be impaired, your memory would fail and your heart would stop beating. And yet today salt is the demon of the diet world – because we end up consuming bad salt and not in prescribed quantity!

Majority of us nowadays consume bad salt - Refined and 'chemically cleaned' salt ripped off its nearly 82 out of 84 natural minerals and broad spectrum of trace elements which are vital for maintaining optimum health. 

Consuming too much of refined salt - plain sodium chloride with added anti-caking agents is not beneficial to our health. Sodium chloride in isolation without its natural counterpart like potassium, calcium, magnesium and other minerals and trace elements cannot maintain a neutral pH level in our body. Sodium chloride on its own makes your body hold on to water. The extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. So, the more bad salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and dementia and kidney disease.

What’s the fuss about Iodized salt?

The real sea salt is not rich in iodine.

Some countertop table salts have added synthetic iodine as a chemical component, which doesn't have anything in common with the natural iodine that our body needs.

The fact is that we do need iodine in our diet. This element, in its natural form, is mandatory for the thyroid gland, which controls many vital functions in our body - You should consult your doctor about What Vitamins & Supplements Should You Be Taking?

* Iodine can be be added to your diet from natural iodine rich foods like seafood, eggs, cereal grains, legumes and dairy products from cows fed with iodised salt or natural supplements such as kelp and seeweed and multi-vitamins.


* 80% of the salt you eat every day is "hidden" in the processed foods you eat. Processed food such as packet chips, biscuits, and store bought savories and snacks contain too much sodium chloride. Before you buy any product, look at the nutritional label on the package to see the salt/sodium content.

* When buying a packet of salt and you see that the only ingredient listed is Sodium chloride and anti-caking agent, you know what you are getting. Put it back in the shelf.

So what kind of salt is good for our health?

Down the memory lane, I remember an old man - a salt vendor moving a huge sack of natural rock salt (harvested from the sea) in his cart down the streets shouting - "Amma, Aiyaa Kallu Uppu vangikanga " ("Ladies and Men of the house buy some rock salt"). My grandfather was his regular customer and after he bought the salt, my grandmother/ my mother stored the rock salt in a medium - sized ceramic jar (Uppu Jaadi). During our grandparents’ time, we all used the good salt. But why there was a shift in our mind-set to use packaged and refined sodium chloride instead of natural sea salt?

Let us discuss on some of the good salts that have naturally present minerals and trace elements. Moderate consumption of good salt will not harm our body. The National Academy of Sciences advises that we consume at least 500 mg of salt a day to maintain good health. How much a person actually needs varies quite a bit, depending on their genetics and daily routine.

Natural rock salt

The so called "rock salt" is also a sea salt that comes from underground mines, where salt deposits have been formed after the evaporation of primordial seas or oceans. All natural salt existing in the world is actually sea salt, whether or not it has been harvested from sea water or from salt mines. There is plenty of it all over the world but only the unprocessed version is healthy for us.

Unrefined sea salt

Sea salt is a broad term that generally refers to unrefined salt derived directly from a living ocean or sea. It is harvested through channelling ocean water into large clay trays and allowing the sun and wind to evaporate it naturally. Manufacturers of sea salt typically do not refine sea salt as much as other kinds of processed salt, so it still contains natural traces of other minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine. Proponents of sea salt rave about its bright, pure, clean flavor, and about the subtleties lent to it by these other trace minerals. Sea salt is thought to be healthier and more flavorful than traditional table salt. Available in coarse, fine & extra fine grain size, and many sizes in between!

Celtic salt

Refers to naturally moist salt harvested from the Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France.  This type of salt are harvested using the Celtic method of wooden rakes allowing no metal to touch the salt. It is naturally air and sun-dried in clay ponds and gathered with wooden tools to preserve its living enzymes.  Because it is unrefined, it contains all of the 84 beneficial live elements found in sea water, with no chemical and preservatives nor any other additives. Among the live minerals and trace elements found in Celtic sea salt are iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.  The 84 trace minerals provide the necessary nutrients and protect the body from the harshness of sodium chloride that we consume from commercial salt.

 Himalayan pink salt

It is one of the purest salt on the earth. This salt is over 250 million years old. Himalayan Pink Salt was originally formed from marine fossil deposits over 250 million years ago. Harvested from ancient seabeds, this rare and extraordinary salt has been a valuable commodity for centuries.  Historically, the Himalayan people used this salt to preserve their fish and meat throughout the year, and every spring they transported the salt to Nepalese valleys for trade. Heavily burdened yaks would carry the salt along narrow sloping paths, mountains, and cliffs in order to sell and exchange the salt for other commodities. Himalayan Pink Salt is still extracted from mines by hand, according to long-standing tradition, and without the use of any mechanical devices or explosion techniques. After being hand-selected, the salt is then hand-crushed, hand-washed, and dried in the sun. However it should be noted that most of the commercial supply of Himalayan Pink Salt on the market today is currently coming from the mountainous regions of Pakistan.

Himalayan pink Salt contains many natural trace minerals required by our body in minute quantities. 
Benefits of Himalayan pink salt:

The benefits:
  • Regulating the water content in your body.
  • Promoting a healthy pH balance in your cells, particularly your brain cells.
  • Promoting blood sugar health and helping to reduce the signs of aging.
  • Assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body.
  • Absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract.
  • Supporting respiratory health.
  • Promoting sinus health.
  • Prevention of muscle cramps.
  • Promoting bone strength.
  • Regulating your sleep -- it naturally promotes sleep.
  • Supporting your libido.
  • Promoting vascular health.
  • In conjunction with water it is actually essential for the regulation of your blood pressure.
Kala namak (black salt/ Sanchal)

Kala namak, or Indian black salt, is an unrefined mineral salt. It is actually a pearly, pinkish-gray color rather than black, and has a strong, sulfuric flavor and aroma. Vegan chefs have made this salt popular for adding in egg-y flavor to dishes like tofu scrambles. Kala Namak is used in authentic Indian cooking, and popular in mango smoothies.  

Basic rules to follow when buying your salt:

* Look for unrefined and natural salt like sea salt/rock salt and other natural exotic salts like Celtic or Himalayan pink salt. The natural and un-refined salt will not be pure white colour as it is not chemically treated.

* Natural and unrefined salt do not consist anti-caking agent. The salt may clump as it draws moisture from the air. Store your un-refined salt in an air-tight glass or ceramic jar and grind your rock salt with mortar and pestle before adding it to your food. 

Bye for now - Until then with Love from PetalDew.

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