Put A Halt On The Salt

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I love Clean Eating Magazine recipes and they almost always call for "sea salt." I never really questioned why I  had to use this particular kind of salt until someone stated that sea salt and table salt were the same thing.

I remembered from my chemistry classes that table salt (NaCl) is chemically made up -- it's not naturally occurring. Then I wondered if this was the reason why salt is bad for you. So I began asking all the salt questions, and here is what I found.

Salt and sodium are frequently used interchangeably, but the reality is they are different! 

Sodium is a mineral and a nutrient that’s naturally occurring and essential to our health and proper functioning of our body. Unprocessed foods like fresh vegetables, legumes, and fruit typically contain sodium.

Most of our sodium we get in our diet comes from salt already added to our foods. The weight of salt is usually a combination of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.

Sodium chloride, or refined "table salt," is the most commonly consumed type of salt. 

What is refined table salt and how is it made?

Unrefined salt's naturally-occurring minerals are removed during processing. To mass produce salt, large salt companies mine low-quality rock salt from the earth. The salt is then heated in a kiln up to temperatures as high as 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating the salt at such high temperatures chemically changes the salt's structure into pure sodium chloride. The chemicals in salt expire through this heating process, so to make salt "safe" to eat again, additives and anti-caking agents are thrown into the mix. 

What are the dangers of additives used in table salt?

Salt additives include fluoride and synthetic iodine. An excess amount of fluoride is harmful to our health.  According to the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), added fluoride can contribute to the following health problems:

  • Skin problems such as acne

  • Cardiovascular problems, which can include arteriosclerosis, arterial calcification, high blood pressure, myocardial damage, cardiac insufficiency, and heart failure
  • Reproductive issues, such as lower fertility and early puberty in girls
  • Dysfunction of the thyroid
  • Certain conditions affecting the joints and bones, like osteoarthritis, bone cancer, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Neurological problems, possibly leading to ADHD

What are anti-caking agents?

Anti-caking agents are designed to make salt easier to pour out of its container.  Ferrocyanide and sodium aluminum silicate are two types of additives. When copious amounts of ferrocyanides are ingested, it is poisonous and sometimes can be deadly. Ferrocyanide is approved as an additive only when used in small quantities so you can imagine what excessive consumption of table salt can do.   

Sodium aluminum silicate prevents dry foods from clumping, forming semi-solid or solid lumps. When the processed dry ingredient mixture doesn't clump, it responds better to packaging and transport. This is also how products maintain a "shelf-life."

The truth is, unrefined salt or natural salt is actually good for you.

Natural salt has many benefits for your body including:

  • Balancing blood sugar

  • Keeping your bones strong

  • Regulating your metabolism
  • Boosting your immune system

There are many kinds of unrefined salts available. Some sea salts are still refined, so double check that the label says “unrefined." Pink Himalayan salt and Celtic gray sea salt are great natural salt choices.

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Kylene is a certified RYT-200 yoga instructor in the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area. Kylene is currently accepting new online clients. Contact Kylene for more details.