Salt: The Enemy of a Healthy Diet?
Salt: The Enemy of a Healthy Diet?
Salt is perhaps the most universally berated food when it comes to health. While recommendations for weight loss and optimal health vary widely, from low carb, to low fat, to low calorie, everyone seems to agree on one thing: SALT = BAD. But like so many things before it (fats, for instance) salt may be slightly misunderstood.
The truth is we need salt to survive. The sodium in salt is used in every single cell in the body and is necessary to proper cellular function; without it, we would not be able to think, move or survive. Sodium is also essential in regulating body temperature through sweat. Ever been told to replenish your salt after a hard workout in the heat? That's why. Yet salt has become demonized, and almost every health expert warns against the dangers of too much of it: high blood pressure, heart failure, and osteoporosis to name a few. But the problem may not be salt itself, rather what we have done to it in production. The following guide will let you know what kind of salts are good, and can provide many health benefits, and what kinds are truly evil, and should be avoided at all costs.
Table Salt – It should come as no surprise that the worst type of salt for you is also the most common, and the most refined. Table salt has been depleted of its natural minerals, bleached, iodized, and exposed to toxic chemicals. According to Dr. David Brownstein, author of Salt Your Way to Health, “this refining process has made [table salt] a toxic, devitalized substance that needs to be avoided.” Because of the chemicals added to give table salt its pristine white appearance and keep it from clumping from moisture (“when it rains it pours” anyone?), “the sodium chloride in table salt is highly concentrated, denatured, and toxic to your body,” Dr. Brownstein contiues.
When it comes to “bad salts” identifying the culprit is fairly easy; anything sold as table salt that looks like fine, tiny, white crystals is going to fit the bill. But what about the good salts?
Unlike table salt which encompasses just about brand you see at your average grocer, good salts, or unrefined salts, can go by several different names depending on where they come from and how they are obtained.
Sea Salt – Many people think of sea salt as the coarser, more 'natural' and healthier version of salt. However the name is deceiving because technically all salt originates from the sea, so while there are good, unrefined, sea salts out there, they are mixed in with processed imposters! If you want to be sure you're getting the real deal, stick with tried and true brands like these:
Celtic Sea Salt – Harvested from the sun, the wind, and shallow clay ionizing ponds, Celtic Sea Salt is unrefined, unprocessed, kosher, whole sea salt. This brand can be found in health food stores like Whole Foods and The Health Concern
HimalaSalt – Himalayan salt is mined 5,000 feet below the Himalayan mountain range and believe to be the purest salt on the plant due to the immense pressure of the mountains. It retains a natural pink color and is the only Himalayan sea salt to be ethically sourced, Kosher certified, Green-e certified, and sustainably packaged with 5% of profits returned to the environment. HimalaSalt can be purchased online.
Redmond Real Salt – This salt is mined in the United States in the remnants of an ancient sea in Utah (where else?). This salt has been protected underground from chemicals and contamination sometimes present in other sea salts. Redmond Real Salt can be found in most health food stores and some supermarkets like Giant Eagle and Super Target.