Salt is one of mama nature’s amazing gifts and up until recently it has been a sought after and respected commodity for thousands of years. Not only does it enhance the flavour of food it is an essential mineral for our body as we do not create it ourselves. Salt is an electrolyte made of sodium and chloride - 2 naturally occurring elements. Salt has so many important functions in the body:
- it’s contained in our fluids that move oxygen and nutrients - transmits nerve impulses (these are information messengers) - regulates the electrical charges that move into and out of each cell - helps healthy contraction of muscles (the most important being the heart) - maintains the correct balance of body fluids - maintains acid - base balance of our cells - helps balance sugar levels - essential for messages moving to and from the brain - affecting all senses as well ⠀⠀ Salt can get a bad rap mainly because it is now found in high amounts in the majority of packaged and processed foods, takeaway and dining out food and therefore it is over consumed. And the salt that is added is usually table salt. The common link between high salt intake is hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) leading to heart disease, stroke and possible death as the arteries become brittle and break. When we consume too much salt, the body also retains fluid storing it in our cells and body which can raise our blood pressure. There are 2 main types of salt which are very different. Table salt - is sourced from mined rock salt from underground salt deposits then treated to remove impurities and therefore removes trace minerals. It usually has a re-created form of iodine added to it during manufacturing, not like the naturally occurring iodine. It is often labelled as ‘iodised salt’. It also contains chemical agents to prevent it from clumping. Sea salt - is harvested naturally by allowing ocean water to evaporate and collecting the salt that remains. You’ll notice it often in flake form. As sea salt is created naturally and not processed it contains small amounts of trace minerals like zinc, potassium and iron. Eating a whole foods and plant based diet there is very minimal if any salt found in these foods so using a good quality ‘sea salt’ is perfect. Note that iodine is not added and may therefore need to be supplemented. There are some natural food sources, however if you have gut concerns you may not be absorbing the right amount. Personally I don’t recommend internal supplementation as it can be dangerous but more on this and Iodine explained soon. For now I personally suggest enjoying a good quality sea salt. I use this regularly in all my cooking as I rarely eat packaged or takeaway foods and focus on a whole foods and vegan diet.