Vail Daily health feature: Is all salt bad?
Craving potato chips? Maybe it’s your body telling you it wants more minerals.
“Your body is craving the minerals, but that comes through as a salt craving,” said Jennifer Straw, local registered nurse and certified wellness coach. “But what people often consume is the processed, stripped-down sodium, so we’re not even getting the minerals.”
Trace minerals are minerals in small amounts required for nutrition. These are the minerals that are found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as vegetables and fruits. But, Straw said, trace minerals aren’t always present in these foods because a lot of domestic and international soil has become depleted from high-yield farming.
So, should you reach for the salt? Yes, but only certain kinds.
“From a health perspective, I want my salt raw and sun dried,” said Delling Zing, owner of Freshies Organic Market in Edwards. “If it’s mined, it’s ideally ground by hand, put in the sun, packaged and shipped to Freshies.”
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Zing sells a variety of salt, but what he cooks with is a Himalayan crystal salt from Evolution Salt Co.
“Their salt has 84 trace minerals, it really tastes good and is good for you,” Zing said, “ and they grind it with stone, so metal never touches it; always use a wooden spoon to cook with it because metal can disturb the properties of the salt.”
Evolution Salt Co. is a family-owned business based domestically out of Austin, Texas. CEO Hayden Nasir said his family has been mining the salt for the past 40 years.
“This salt is coming from the Himalayan mountains in Pakistan called the Salt Range,” Nasir said in a phone interview. “It’s about 350 kilometers. People ask if we will ever run out of salt; we won’t run out of salt for the next 20 centuries.”
That’s great news for Zing and anyone else looking to meet their allotted 2,300 milligrams of daily sodium intake recommended by the USDA. That number dips to 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are black, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, according to http://www.mayoclinic.org.
SALT’S BAD NAME
Salt is an electrolyte that every cell in the body needs it to function, so why has salt become an outlaw in many diet recommendations? It’s table salt that’s the culprit, it seems — not the pure, unrefined forms that Zing uses and sells at Freshies.
Straw said it’s important to pay attention to the quantity of sodium consumed, and even more importantly, the quality. Regular table salt, like what you’ll find in most run-of-the-mill restaurant shakers, contains additives. Additives like calcium silicate, dextrose and yellow prussiate of soda, which are all anti-caking agents.
“These are really just artificial chemicals that you don’t want to consume,” Straw said.
And while the salt is processed and these chemicals are added, the once-pure crystals are stripped of healthful minerals. And all the other fine-grain forms? Iodized salt is table salt with added iodine, and kosher salt is table salt without iodine, but still with anti-clumping agents added.
“Consuming too much sodium does cause your blood pressure to rise, in general, and I feel like salt gets a bad rep from that,” Straw said. “Salt is also a preservative, found in a lot of canned goods, and that’s where people get a lot of extra sodium in their diet.”
Straw said the sodium intake from processed foods often goes unnoticed, because the foods don’t necessarily taste salty, but it adds up nonetheless.
PLEASE PASS THE SALT
Nasir said Himalayan salt is 100 percent natural, raw, contains 84 trace minerals — the same trace minerals as a healthy living tissue — and is bioenergetically alive. Living salt? Salt crystals vibrate at the same frequency as the electromagnetic field that surrounds the earth, Nasir said, which is the most common vibration found in the natural world, as it’s also found in living beings.
“Table salt is heated to 1,200 degrees, and what that does is separate the sodium and chloride bond,” Nasir said. “So, when people eat that, it becomes a foreign substance that the body does not understand. The body has a hard time absorbing it and an equally hard time eliminating it.”
When the body rejects the refined salt, it strips other good minerals we have already working for us in our body as well.
Nasir and Zing both recommend consuming raw salt on foods, and Evolution’s Himalayan salt can also be added to meats and vegetables from a antimicrobial salt block. Nasir recommended drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of “sole” solution every morning to give your body the minerals it needs.
“You let a salt crystal dissolve in water for about four hours to make the sole solution,” Nasir said. “The salt will dissolve up to 26 percent and no more, just like our bodies.”
Sea salt can provide an unrefined salt option too, but both Nasir and Zing said a lot of sea salt is now being processed because of the pollutants in the ocean.
“I used to carry a lot more salts,” Zing said. “But with the salts from Hawaii, I have concerns about radiation. There are just a lot of environmental toxins in the ocean.”
It’s the average American diet, Zing said, that leaves people’s bodies in an acidic, disease-prone condition. He said the minerals found in pure salt crystals help to alkalize your system, which creates an environment in the body where disease can’t grow.
“Most people don’t want to cut out salt completely,” Straw said. “It’s good to consume a more high-quality salt, so your body gets the minerals it needs, in addition to the sodium.”
Kim Fuller is a freelance writer based in Vail. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.