Salt is found all over the world, from oceans to mines and has played a significant role in how countries grew and developed. Pre-historic animals sought out salt to satisfy their need for the mineral. Humans hunted the animals along the trails to the salt licks and ponds, thus introducing salt to the human diet. The trails became paths, the paths became roads and villages grew around those roads. Salt’s value increased dramatically and became a currency when its flavoring, preservation and medicinal value as an antiseptic were realized. As the salt economy evolved the villages grew into towns and the towns into cities.
Salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. Knowing when salt is right for you and when it’s terrible is the recipe for keeping your intake in balance.
Salt is necessary for normalizing body functions, nutrient absorption and:
Regulating heart rate
Maintaining muscle function
Supporting body fluid levels
Boosting the immune system
Protecting oral health
Calming the nervous system
Salt pulls water out of your blood cells. So the more you eat, the more water enters your bloodstream, swelling the volume and thereby increasing your blood pressure. Too much salt can increase the risk of:
High blood pressure
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams daily, and anyone 51 or older, African Americans, or those with chronic kidney disease, hypertension, or high blood pressure a limit of 1500 milligrams per day.
Salt, refined and unrefined comes in many colors, and each has unique properties. Here are the most interesting.
Table salt, the most common variety starts out as rocks or brine; through an intense process of drying and bleaching, all its beneficial minerals are lost. In the 1920s iodine was added to salt to stimulate the production of hormones by the thyroid. Iodine is not naturally made by the body but needed to avoid hypothyroidism and goiters.
Sea Salt– is the result of the evaporation of ocean waters. Since very little processing takes place, it retains the essential vitamins of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, bromide and copper. The process used for sea salt has trace amounts of minerals which can alter its taste and color. Sea salt comes in a variety of colors depending on where it is harvested.
Yellow – comes from the underground saline waters of the Murray/Darling river basin in Australia. It contains magnesium, calcium, iron, and trace minerals.
Lava – is sea salt mixed with activated charcoal. Like table salt, black lava is high in sodium and should only be used in moderation.
Maldon – This sea salt has been hand-harvested by the Maldon family on the banks of the Chelmer River in Essex England for more than 135 years.
Himalayan Pink – is mined in the Punjab region of Pakistan. Its pink color is indicative of the level of mineral content. It contains over 84 minerals as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.
Black – also known as Kala Namak from India and Pakistan. Kala Namak is the result of heating Himalayan Pink salt to extreme temperatures, mixing it with Indian spices and the seeds of the Harad fruit which contains sulfur; the result is the dark reddish-purple color with a distinctive odor. It has close to the same levels of sodium chloride found in table salt and should be used in moderation.
Kosher – Salt can be designated kosher when it goes through the formal process, but not all kosher salt is actually kosher. Kosher salt has less sodium than table salt. One teaspoon of kosher has about 1,120 milligrams of sodium. In contrast, a teaspoon spoon of a table contains 2,325 milligrams.
Finishing and Gourmet Salts – are smoked or infused salts that are used at the end of the cooking process. Smoked can be imbued with Applewood, hickory, or Alderwoods. Infused includes many fruit and herbaceous salts such as Makrut Lime salt or lavender salt.
More on the beautiful world of salt can be found at: