Is salt bad? If you aren’t sure, you are not alone. There is so much contradicting research. Why do we make food so complicated? For most of history food was food. There were no nutritionists, scientists, businesses, or government officials telling people what to eat. Food was not a commodity. It was a way to survive.
This is why I love the real food movement. I trust food that’s been eaten for thousands of years and the traditional practices that were designed to help preserve life. And this includes salt. Lots of salt, actually. Since salt was the main source of preservation you can bet our ancestors ate a lot of salt. So is salt bad? This is why I say “no”:
For thousands of years salt has been known as a panacea. Alchemists called it ‘the fifth element’— besides water, earth, air and fire — because its qualities were comparable only to ether, the actual fifth element. Why are we so drawn to the ocean? Because our subconscious mind instinctively wants to return to the specific vibrational state of the ocean from which we once emerged. This is where we can return to recharge our batteries and regenerate. (2)
Salt is essential to your health.
Ever wonder why patients at modern hospitals are hooked up to an IV of saline solution? (You know, salt water.) It’s because salt plays an important role in your body:
- Salt is a compound of two elements, sodium and chloride. Sodium, along with other elements help balance the water in our bodies.
- Since our body relies on electrolytes, (including salt) to carry out electrical impulses, salt is essential in keeping our body functioning properly.
- Salt is also important to stimulate muscle contractions, which keeps muscles from cramping.
- Salt keeps calcium and other minerals in the bloodstream.
- Salt stimulates the adrenal glands.
- Salt is very important in the prevention of heat prostration and sunstroke.
- Salt contains nutrients that are vital to the digestive system as it plays a primary role in the process of digestions and absorption.
- A lack of salt is dangerous… leading to shock if the blood pressure is decreased too severely.
So why am I told to consume less salt?
I know what you are thinking: But what about high blood pressure? Or water retention? Or all the other horrible things I’ve been told that are linked to salt consumption? Why does the governement keep coming out with reports telling us to decrease our salt intake if salt is so good? Clearly salt is bad. Right?
Like most things in life, the real answer lies in the details.
Some salt is bad. Some salt is good.
Do you know what makes salt bad or good? If you listen to the fancy chefs and nutritionists the answer is simple: sea salt is good and table salt is bad. But hold on. Did you know that all salt is sea salt?
The sea is the source of all salt, whether that salt was mined from ancient sea beds or harvested from current (or “dead”) oceans. So even the cheap white stuff is sea salt. This means that a label with the word “sea” on it does not immediately qualify the salt as good.
No, the difference between “good” and “bad” salt is what is added… and what is taken out.
When salt is bad
Sea water usually contains more than 60 essential trace minerals, but most salt producers today remove these high-profit minerals and sell them to vitamin manufacturers before selling the remaining salt to you and me to dump on our hash browns. (1)
Once again man is looking to profit from food. By stripping salt of these 60+ trace minerals what is left is a bitter flavor. Not quite what you want to sprinkle on your popcorn, right? So manufacturers try to mask the bitterness with chemicals or even sugar. (Just look for the word dextrose.) Not only are you missing out on those extra minerals, but your body now has to deal with chemical garbage.
Salt has been part of the human diet forever. The body knows how to process salt when it’s consumed in its natural state. Even though salt is technically just sodium chloride, in nature it’s always found with other minerals. This complex, synergistic relationship is what the body has known for thousands and thousands of years. When we divorce these minerals our body is now dealing with something like a foreign object. Sure, it still needs the sodium chloride, but without its friends around the body can start to react poorly.
In fact, things like high blood pressure and water retention were never associated with the consumption of salt. That is, they were never associated until they started consuming this chemically altered salt about 100 years ago. (1)
No wonder there is so much conflicting data. Not all salt is created equal.
So if how can I tell if my salt is bad?
Start by checking the label. You’d be surprised how many expensive “sea salts” are still full of additives. If you see a bunch of other ingredients, like anti-caking agents or sugar, I’d definitely avoid it. Remember, you don’t want any extra stuff added in.
You also don’t want any stuff taken out. Real salt should have all its minerals in tact. This means that real salt rarely resembles the white and perfectly uniform crystals you see at your local diner. My favorite salt has a spectrum of colors from pink to gray. It’s full of mineral goodness, and I have noticed a tremendous benefit to my health by getting more salt into my diet. It’s “made” just the way nature intended it because it’s made by nature… not man. (And did I mention how good it tastes?) (You can find real salt online here.)
So yeah. Stripped and chemical salt is bad. But real salt is very, very good.
This post is part of Make Your Own Monday, Monday Mania, Sunday School, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Eat Make Grow Thursday, Freaky Friday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival, Fill Those Jars Friday, Fight Back Friday, and Real Food Wednesday.