The Salt of It!
Is Himalayan Salt Really Better?
Lets take a brief look at the history of salt, the new controversy on the amount of salt (sodium) you should eat per day for heart health and the many healthy benefits of Himalayan Salt.
History of Salt
Salt or should I say white gold was very difficult to get way back when. Animal meat or the blood of animals contained salt and many minerals so Nomads did not need to supplement with salt because their diet mainly consisted of eating their own flock or herd. As people became more civilized, people became more agriculturist and began feeding on grains. Grains contain much less salt than animal meat so the need for supplementing salt in one's diet became necessary. The value of salt as a preservative was also discovered and with people now needing salt, Salt became highly valued, especially since it was very difficult to obtain. Salt was also heavily taxed and controlled by many governments. Can you imagine that wars were fought over salt? Rome at one time built roads to the sea to dry the seawater so they could produce their own salt. The Romans then transported their heavily taxed salt and used its income source to fund their own government. Salt was also accepted as a means of payment, and led to expressions like "Earning Your Salt". Even the famous voyage of Christopher Columbus was financed from salt production. Some have even said that the French revolution was due to the salt tax in France. Even Gandhi led thousands of people on a salt march for India to make their own salt defying British Rule and the British Salt Tax giving India some more independence from England. So amazing our history is, even for Salt!
The New Salt Controversy - How Much Salt Should We Eat
According to the American Heart Association, we should limit the sodium in our diet to less than 2,300 mg per day and to no more than 1,500 mg per day, especially if you have hypertension. Recently the American Heart Association has expressed that most everyone should limit their intake of sodium to around 1,500 mgs per day because studies suggest that almost 90% of Americans will develop high blood pressure. Several studies are now showing that eating a low amount of sodium (1500 mg per day) or eating an excessive amount of sodium 7,000 mg per day, poses the same amount of risk to our heart health, including increased heart attacks and high blood pressure. Of course the AMA and Heart Association disagree with these findings so the great salt debate moves on! We also have to think that not too long ago huge amounts of salt were used to preserve food and were eaten and there did not seem to be many health problems connected to its use.
Many feel the concern has to do with the sources of salt people are eating. Salt is necessary for life! Unfortunately, most of the salt consumed comes from processed foods or salt we add to our food (table salt). Most people only eat about 12% of foods that naturally contain sodium. The real problem is not how much sodium we are eating but is the sodium natural or chemically processed.
Types of Salt
Salt comes from salt mines, seawater or spring water and is made up of equal parts of NaCl (Sodium Chloride). When mixed with water it separates into Sodium and Chloride. Salt is essential for our bodies because it is needed in our blood to activate cells and move nutrients around.
Table salt is about 98% sodium chloride (40% sodium, 58% chloride) as well as 2% chemicals such as an anti-caking agents as well as added iodine. Table salt is also prepared by a drying process that uses extreme heat. This extreme heat affects its chemical structure making it a chemical compound and difficult for the body to process. Sea salt is made through evaporation and usually come from the beds of the sea and contains slightly different minerals depending on which sea they came from. Many believe that sea salts contain pollutants because of their origin, however, they are a natural salt and usually have slightly less sodium chloride than table salt and are in rich in some minerals such as iodine, fluorine, magnesium, and potassium. Keep in mind though that most sea salt is also processed and purified using high heat. Kosher salt is also refined and contains no iodine.
Himalayan salt is said to be some of the best salt on earth! Reminds me of Snapple - just kidding - making sure you are still awake! It is one of the most natural forms of salt because it is not processed so the salt retains its original structure and its high bio-energetic quality, and contains many minerals. The salt content in our blood is very similar to the salt content of the ocean, however, our blood contains many trace minerals and those minerals most closely resemble the trace minerals found in Himalayan Salt. Himalayan salt comes from the second largest mine in the world in Pakistan. Its composition is roughly 97-98% sodium chloride and 2-3% poly halite which is a combination of evaporated minerals. It is said to contain a total of 84 minerals and its pinkish hue comes naturally from iron oxide that also has benefits to our health.
Himalayan Salt is said to provide the following benefits: help to regulate your body's water content, improved quality of sleep, increase in energy, increase in brain activity, weight loss, hair and nail growth, improved respiratory, circulatory, and nervous system function. Salt is also said to work with water in helping to regulate your blood pressure!
Read your labels, determine the salt debate for yourself, eat whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, some meats and fish if you so wish, and continue to stay away from processed foods and you should naturally maintain a low sodium diet. If you want, try some Himalayan salt to lightly flavor your food - I love it!
Sources and More Information on Salt:
Article on Himalayan Salt with Dr. Mercola
Written by: Mara Gerke CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.