It’s one of those situations where you begin researching a subject and discover an ocean of information you can’t begin to wade through.
I was beginning to look at salt; basically for two reasons: I’ve heard a lot of people raving about Pink Himalayan Salt and I wanted to know what made it so good. And secondly I wanted to know if salt is as bad as people make out – surely there must be some benefit in it. This partly comes from personal experience: I’ve fasted a few times in my life and I know what it’s like to go without salt for a few days, let’s just say you can’t operate as well as you should. But current health advice still says we need to reduce our salt intake.
So what is salt good for? It helps the body in so many ways that the list seems to be endless – but that doesn’t mean we need lots of it, (current health advice is a maximum of 6 grams). It helps you keep a balance of fluids in your body, it is central to the function of all your nerves and it helps your cells gather the nutrients they need. As a side note you are 0.4% salt – a 12 stone male would have just over 60 teaspoons of salt inside them!
The list could go on: it’s in our blood, our sweat and our tears, you need salt to stop you getting varicose veins, it’s vital for a good night’s sleep (by the way, if you’re drooling too much on your pillow you’re not getting enough salt) and you need salt to get rid things like phlegm from your lungs. It’s good for our metabolism, digestion and muscle tone, you can use it for acne, eczema, sore throats and bathing aching joints.
However the problem with salt seems to be two-fold: the average person is eating way too much salt and it’s also the wrong type of salt.
Pretty much everyone should know by now that excess salt gives you high blood pressure which can lead to can lead to strokes, heart disease, eye problems, or kidney failure.
The main advice has to be to avoid pre-packed and highly processed food, and that includes things like lots of tomato ketchup or stock cubes. Recent news is that even supermarket own brands of gluten free or dairy free products can contain unusually high amounts of salt. Roughly ¾ of our average salt intake comes from processed food, so get into more home cooking (and don’t worry so much about adding a pinch of salt for flavouring).
But perhaps more worrying is that common table salt has most of its beneficial minerals washed out of it. Salt, when it is originally harvested has almost all the minerals our bodies need. That’s why people are going mad about pink salt – it’s pink because you can see the iron in it, packed with over 80 elements needed by the body himalayan salt delivers minerals like potassium, calcium, iodine and zinc.
There’s an easy way to test if your salt has been processed: leave a spoon of it in a glass of water overnight. If the salt collects on the bottom it has been refined, if it’s natural it will dissolve. Apparently salt that doesn’t dissolve tends to collect in your body organs.
It’s a funny image reversal but, as with many foods where ‘white’ is not good, it seems that the dirtier the salt the better. Danival have a slightly grey coloured salt, Clearspring produce a salt that is “whitish” and himalayan salt is just as pretty in pink.