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The Healthy Cook's Conundrum: To Salt or Not to Salt?

Is Salt Healthy to Use in Cooking?

If you’re a salaried employee, would you want to get paid in salt instead of money? Probably not.

But millennia ago, that’s what you may have been compensated with for your goods or services. Salt and gold were the most precious commodities.

Gold, of course, is still considered precious.

And in the kitchen, so, too is salt. But is salt healthy?

The short answer: it depends.

What kind of salt are you using?

Before you answer that question, let’s look at a few of the health benefits of salt:

-- helps regulate blood pressure

-- facilitates brain-muscle communication

-- supports healthy adrenal glands and hormone production

-- fires neuronal connection (helps brain function)

-- carries nutrients into and out of cells

But despite these benefits, you have no doubt heard, or perhaps firmly believe, that salt is bad for you. You’ve likely been told that sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure.

So which is it? Is salt healthy or not?

Now is the time to answer the question, “What kind of salt do you use?”

If you add tablespoon fulls of regular white table salt, then, yes, salt can be bad for you.

Adding a dash or sprinkle of salt to taste on foods, however, even if it’s regular white table salt, most likely has no bearing on your health.

Anti-salt crusaders are in the same boat as anti-fat, anti-cholesterol, anti-saturated fat and anti-carb zealots. We need salt, aka sodium chloride, for life’s basic functions.

Excess sodium intake, though, depletes the body of potassium.

Eating lots of processed food, which hopefully you’re not doing, and not likely doing, since you’re reading this healthy cooking blog, can be a recipe for chronic health conditions, due to excessive sodium to flavor the junk food coupled with inadequate potassium content in processed foods. (Sodium and potassium act as a see-saw in intra-cellular fluid; too much sodium and not enough potassium can lead to inflammatory conditions.)

Even if you don’t eat much processed food and only sparingly add salt to your recipes, consider buying healthy salt.

What’s healthy salt? Salt that has not been whitened (read: heated at high temps that kill nutrients; processed). When you see white salt, you can bet that the salt has been excessively processed.

Himalayan salt, or greyish-pinkish salt from Utah’s Great Salt Lake, or Celtic Sea Salt, on the other hand, are all minimally processed.

This means that there are more trace minerals in the salt and less sodium chloride.

Natural salt is about 85% sodium chloride; table salt is over 97% sodium chloride.

Regular table salt may also contain synthetic chemicals and denatured sodium from excessive heating. Even though table salt does contain iodine, which natural salt does not contain much of, don’t let the fact that iodine being present in table salt means it’s healthier.

You can get all the iodine you need from small servings of sea vegetables (such as the tengusa found in Miracle Noodle’s Dry Kanten Pasta).

So when you hear someone say that salt is bad for you, take it with a horrible pun...you know, a grain of salt.

Salt plays vital roles in health. We cannot live without salt. If you’ve been adding a dash or two of table salt to your recipes, that’s fine. As long as you barely eat any processed foods and eat plenty of green leafy vegetables to ensure proper potassium intake, your health should not be in jeopardy from eating some salt here and there.

But if you haven’t cooked with natural sea salt, give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rich taste, and because it has lots of trace minerals, mostly absent in table salt, it’s way healthier for you.

Natural salt must be good for you. After all, that’s what ancient societies were paid with.

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