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Salt of the Earth

Posted Jul 19 2009 1:52pm

I find that I am often asked about salt. Why is it so bad? Is it so bad? Why is sea salt so much better for you? When it comes down to it, salt is salt. There is no "better" form of it, just levels of refinement. Salt has gotten a bad rap over the years, mostly because of its correlation with blood pressure. I'd like to demystify this little rock and set the record straight on its uses and effects on health.

It's important to remember that salt is actually useful to our bodies in many ways - we need it. Our bodies are 75% water. Did you realize that this water is a salt water solution? Very similar to seawater. Salt helps maintain electrolyte balance, helps with the absorption of food in the intestines, acts as an antihistamine, acts to clear the lungs of mucus, helps lower the acidity of the cells, and helps regulate blood sugar among other things. All salt lovers, myself included, can let out a big sigh of relief.

Sea salt is often touted as being healthy due to its higher mineral content. The common salt on most tables is made up primarily of sodium chloride along with added iodine. The trace minerals found in natural sea salt such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium are removed during processing. The argument for sea salt stems from the fact that natural sea salt retains these trace minerals. Gram for gram, sea salt contains as much sodium as table salt. However, because of its larger crystals, you may be inclined to use less of it.

Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits. It possesses very fine crystals and a sharp taste. Sea salt is harvested from evaporated seawater and receives little or no processing, leaving in tact the minerals from the water it came from. Kosher salt gets its name from its use in the koshering process. It contains no preservatives and can be derived from either seawater or underground sources.

When it comes to cooking, the difference lies in the texture. Table salt dissolves quickly and is the preferred salt of bakers. Sea salt and kosher salt have larger, irregular granules and add a nice crunch to food when added at the last minute.

Bottom line, if you are watching your blood pressure, put down that shaker. If you want some added minerals with your salt and are willing to fork over a little more cash, ship ahoy mate.
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