What is the healthiest salt for your body? Maybe you think it’s better to avoid salt completely; especially if you have high blood pressure. Salt has had a lot of bad press over recent years and many people have the impression that it is best avoided. There is one salt which is good for your health – Unprocessed sea salt, taken in combination with a healthy diet of natural unprocessed foods.
In ancient times salt was so valuable that it was, quite literally, worth it’s weight in gold. The word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt, a connection that dates back to a time when Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt.
It is true that these days over-consumption of common iodized salt is a common problem, contributing to high-blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications. The main reason for this is consuming too much refined salt. Refined iodized salt is often hidden in processed foods. Salt is a cheap way to make food tasty and is used liberally in producing packaged and fast food. Avoiding the excess salt in processed foods is just one more important reason for eating plenty of fresh, natural foods and less processed foods.
If we eat a diet based largely on natural plant foods we do need some additional unprocessed natural sea salts. We need the vital “electrolytes” in salt, Sodium and potassium, to control water levels in the blood and tissues. An excess or deficiency of either of these ions can be life-threatening.
Healthy consumption of salt also plays a key role in other ways:
So Why use Unprocessed Sea Salt? Minerals!
The most balanced and healthy salt comes from evaporated sea water – natural sea salt. It may have a slightly grey colour, which indicates the presence of a variety of mineral salts other than sodium chloride. Processed iodized salt has just two minerals, while unprocessed natural salt has hundreds. It will have a less harsh, more rounded flavour than refined salt. I always recommend using unprocessed sea salt in my recipes but this is not only for health reasons – it also brings a more subtle, complex flavor to the foods it is used to season.
How much salt should we use to season food?
I suggest that the best level of salt seasoning in food is that which brings out the full flavor of the other ingredients. The best way to learn this is when making a soup. If you add salt gradually, perhaps ¼ or ½ a teaspoon at a time to a pot of soup, you will notice that the flavor of the soup ‘deepens’. At a magic point, the soup will have a “full” flavor – without being at all salty. If you continue to add salt, it will begin to dominate and your soup will start to taste salty. Well-seasoned food is a sign of an experienced and skilful cook. Keep practicing!
An important note about additives in common iodized salt
Many cooking salts contain hydroscopic (water-absorbing) additives. These help keep the salt from clumping and absorbing water. They are not added for the good of our health! Bright white, free-flowing salt is sure to have additives. Read packaging carefully and if possible buy “unprocessed” or “certified organic” sea salt.
Copyright Roger Wild and Wild Health 2007