Not All Salt Is Created Equal
When was the last time you gave salt a thought? It’s on every table in every restaurant, in every kitchen pantry and it’s in every processed food item we consume. Salt is the most essential ingredient in just about every dish we prepare…it adds a delicious depth of flavor to our recipes and we even have cravings for salty snacks.
I think it’s time we learn more about this natural product… SALT.
Let’s start off with the most commonly used table salt. Webster’s Dictionary defines salt as a white crystalline substance, sodium chloride, found in natural beds, in sea water, etc., and used for seasoning foods, etc.. But, what they DON”T tell you may be surprising for most of you.
Common table salt is processed and stripped of its nutritious minerals. Chemicals like Ferrocyanide, talc (a known carcinogen) and silica aluminate are then added to prevent clumping.
Did you know... aluminum intake leads to neurological disorders, which is a good reason to switch to natural sea salt. (More on this later.)
Did you know… while talc has been replaced by corn starch in baby powders and banned in all foods, because of its toxicity, it’s allowed to be added to table salt with the full blessing of the FDA.
Table salt contains added iodine, which we do need in our diets to maintain a healthy thyroid. Our bodies need a certain amount of sodium to be healthy, BUT you’d have to consume a dangerous amount of sodium to get enough iodine for optimum health. In fact, iodine is a natural mineral found in real unadulterated sea salt.
Why are nutritious minerals stripped from my salt?
So what happens to the minerals that have been stripped away? The chemical companies sell these minerals to supplement companies, further increasing their profits.
The Jig Is Up…
Natural, unprocessed sea salt does NOT contain anti-caking or clumping agents. However, the FDA insists that any salt which does not have iodine added by a manufacturer MUST have a warning label stating the salt contains no iodine when, in fact, real sea salt typically contains more natural iodine than iodized table salt.
If you’re still concerned about an iodine deficiency, common in many parts of the world and a leading cause of mental retardation, hypothyroidism and other health problems, modify your diet. Eat foods high in iodine such as eggs, fish and dairy products. Take kelp tablets (seaweed), very high in iodine, a few times a week.
Speaking of Sea Salt…
Sea salt creates a new dimension to cooking by adding bursts of flavor and texture to dishes hot out of the oven. It’s also perfect for salt grinders.
Pure sea salt is not harmful in moderate amounts. In fact, consuming healthy sea salt creates a hostile environment for bad bacteria, parasites and pathogens. And as mentioned above contains more natural iodine than the table salt you’re probably using right now.
Depending on where sea salt is harvested, it usually contains trace minerals like potassium, iron and zinc.
Give Flaked Sea Salt a try…it originates from the Essex coast of England. I’ve yet to get my hands on this, however, I’ve read that it compliments steamed vegetables and shellfish with a hint of briny flavor. It’s a bit pricey but if you’re so inclined, can be found online or at specialty food stores.
The darker the sea salt, the higher the impurities due to pollution in seas and oceans. Sea salt can also contain trace amounts of heavy metals like lead. It’s important to know where your sea salt comes from.
On the Good Side
Did you know… sea salt naturally contains selenium which has several health benefits such as promoting a healthy immune system, cognitive function, reducing inflammation, aiding in fertility and lowering the risk of prostate cancer.
Pure sea salt also contains boron, which helps prevent osteoporosis and contains chromium which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Consuming small amounts of pure sea salt can actually lower blood pressure for most.
Did you know… the Japanese and other cultures actually consume more salt than Americans but have lower rates of high blood pressure and heart disease. That’s a little food for thought.
Beware the Fake…
If the sea salt you used in preparing last night’s dinner is bright white…chances are it’s fake. The healthy natural minerals in real pure sea salt give it a gray or slightly pink color. And while labeled as sea salt, it is often manufactured by the same companies that produce mineral depleted table salt. So don’t believe everything you read on the label, especially when large chemical companies and manufacturers are involved. Be diligent and do your homework before spending your money on a fake. I found this out the hard way.
Kosher Salt…Gotta Love It!
Kosher salt is my “go to” salt when preparing meals. It quickly dissolves and its clean flavor disperses quickly so use it for all your cooking. It’s also the best salt to sprinkle on popcorn. The good news/bad news is Kosher salt contains no additives, nutritional or otherwise.
I love the rough coarse crystals and when a recipe calls for a pinch, this texture gives you the perfect amount every time. Remember to salt food as you cook and when you think your dish is done, taste it and add a pinch more if needed.
There are sea salts from all over the globe and they come in a variety of colors and textures. Try Himalayan Pink Salt…harvested in Pakistan, the pink color comes from trace amounts of iron oxide and looks pretty on certain dishes. Or, try Smoked Paprika Sea Salt on vegetables that will taste so good, you won’t want to stop eating.
Did you know… salt was once traded ounce per ounce for gold. Yes…gold.
Did you know… in ancient Roman times, salt was used as currency. In fact, the meaning of the word “salary” is based in the history of salt, its value and its importance throughout Italian history.
Seek out and try Hawaiian Sea Salt. Its pinkish color is due to the iron-rich red clay indigenous to the area. You can find this delicious sea salt and others in gourmet shops or online.
The fanciest of all salts just may be Fleur deSel. Some call it the caviar of sea salt probably because it’s hand harvested in France under perfect weather conditions…lots of sun and wind. I’ve not had the pleasure of experiencing this salt but they say it melts slowly in the mouth and has an earthy flavor that lingers on your tongue. Sounds more like the perfect piece of chocolate but definitely on my list of things to try.
So, have fun and experiment with different salt seasonings…you never know what fabulous dish you’ll come up with and I invite you to come back and share your success stories with me. I look forward to your comments and feedback below and if you have a particular question, I will help find the answer.