Please pass the salt

This article was originally published in April 2015

There are many options in the world of salt these days, including an array of options at PCC. In addition to iodized salt and Kosher salt, we now have Himalayan pink salt, red merlot salt, smoked sea salts and even black salt.

The geographical origins of different sea salts result in a unique profile of ultra-trace minerals such as calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, iron and zinc. The different colors of these salts are often an indicator of the salts’ mineral content.

Even though the traces of certain minerals (such as calcium and potassium) found in sea salts will never add up to a significant amount of your “daily value,” there are many other reasons why sea salts are a better choice for your health than refined table salt. Here are five reasons to incorporate sea salts into your cooking.

 

1) They contain less sodium than refined salt.

The proportion of sodium is lower due to the presence of additional minerals. For example, Celtic sea salt contains approximately 15% less sodium than refined table salt.

2) They offer more complex flavors.

As a result, you may use less salt when cooking because the various minerals in each unique sea salt provide more flavor.

3) They alkalize the body.

Many of the minerals in sea salts help to balance your body’s pH. If your system becomes too acidic, your body pulls calcium from the bones to balance the pH, which can contribute to bone loss.

4) They support our antioxidant defenses.

The antioxidant enzymes in our body rely on trace minerals, such as zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, to support our body’s normal detoxification systems.

5) No additives!

Some table salts add anti-caking ingredients, such as aluminum, dextrose or other unnecessary additives.

 

Isn’t salt bad for me?

Sodium is an essential nutrient, needed to maintain homeostasis throughout the body, but it’s often grouped together with other “bad nutrients” because of its association with hypertension.

Most salt in the U.S. diet (75-80%) comes from packaged foods, not the salt shaker; therefore, adding salt to your cooking is not as problematic as eating a diet composed primarily of processed foods. A slice of bread or a cup of cereal can have over 200mg of sodium without even tasting salty, while “salty” foods like pretzels can contain up to 50% of your daily value! The fewer packaged foods you eat, the more room you have for adding salt to your cooking.

New research suggests that sodium is not as big of a risk factor for heart disease as previously believed. Sugar may actually be a more important risk factor for hypertension, especially fructose. While salt definitely isn’t as “bad” as it has been made out to be, this doesn’t mean we should ignore our sodium intake. Too much sodium results in increased calcium excretion, which contributes to osteoporosis and kidney stones.

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