Benefits of salt
Using the right amount is an affordable way to stay healthy
By Debra L. Karplus
Salt gets a bad rap. Too much salt in our diets can raise blood pressure. Salt can even make our cars unhealthy; winter road salt can cause rust on the undersides of our otherwise well-maintained vehicles. Salt is made from sodium and chloride, the chemical symbol, NaCl. According the Center for Disease Control (CDC), www.cdc.gov,”the majority of sodium in our diets comes from packaged and restaurant food (not the salt shaker)”. That’s great news for people trying to save money, because a typical twenty-six ounce container of iodized table salt costs about forty cents at the supermarket and lasts a very long time. Salt is essential for our bodies and has many health benefits.
Salt is important in our diets.
Your body requires reasonable amounts of sodium daily. Sodium keeps electrolytes in balance and helps facilitate healthy water retention to prevent dehydration. It also helps with muscle contraction and with digestion. Your doctor or dentist may even have suggested gargling with warm salt water to get rid of a sore throat or bad breath. It’s likely that you are getting enough sodium in your diet if you are not deliberately trying to reduce or eliminate it.
Some foods that contain higher amounts of sodium may surprise you. Dairy foods fall into that category. You may already be aware that cheese and butter have salt added, but milk naturally contains sodium also. So if you eat dairy products, such as yogurt, you may possibly be getting enough salt in your diet. Read the labels and have a calculator handy.
Packaged and restaurant food is expensive and typically loaded with too much salt.
Looking at a box of generic macaroni and cheese, one serving contains 720 milligrams of sodium, approximately thirty-seven percent of the daily recommended amount on a diet of two thousand calories. That may not sound like much, but remember that is only one course at one meal in a day. Likely more sodium-filled foods are eaten during the course of that same day. Be careful!
Restaurants, too, load their food with salt. If you are accustomed to a low sodium diet at home, you will really notice the overly salty taste of foods eaten away from home, especially soups and sauces. It doesn’t matter if it is a fancy restaurant or fast food, it probably contains way too much salt.
The several types of salt depend on size and source.
The type of salt you probably have in your kitchen is iodized table salt. Other types of table salt probably contain iodine, a necessary nutrient for thyroid health. But you may have noticed that many recipes require kosher salt rather than regular table salt. Kosher salt comes in a similar container to regular table salt and cost a bit more. Its granules are larger than table salt. Chefs like kosher salt because it is easier to handle and helps drain moisture out of foods. Depending on the recipe, you may be able to get by using regular table salt if you do not have the larger granule salt.
Popcorn salt might be thought of as the opposite of kosher salt. It’s much more finely ground than table salt and sticks well to foods like French fries, potato chips and popcorn. You can easily make your own popcorn salt in a spice mill or food processor.
Rock salt, not typically ingested, is made from table salt and comes in very large granules; it takes a long time to dissolve because of its size. Rock salt is the stuff that melts the winter ice on your driveway or sidewalk. It’s also used when you make homemade ice cream. It comes in a large back and is very inexpensive.
Sea salt is said to contain the same minerals as table salt. But it’s made from evaporated ocean water unlike table salt which is mined. Sea salt costs two or more times that of table salt depending on the size of the container. Proponents of healthy eating recommend foods with sea salt rather than table salt. It’s difficult to know the accuracy of such advice, in the same way some folks prefer bottled water to that from the tap. Do your own research and decide for yourself.
Epson salts benefit your health and belong in every household.
Epson salt contains magnesium, sulfur and oxygen and when ingested can aid digestion. A six pound bag sells at the pharmacy or supermarket for about four bucks, and will last a long time. Many people use Epson salt externally as it has numerous benefits to your skin. Dissolve some Epson salt in a warm tub, hop in, and relax tired muscles.
Before you ban salt from you house because your physician implied that salt was bad for you, assess your diet and lifestyle to determine how salt can make you healthy for a very low cost.