Natural, Unrefined Salt Best Source of Minerals

Essays > Health

Grahi shows how to benefit from an ancient and traditional condiment that has loads of minerals and has been used for thousands of years.

It is a cheap, easy to use, and tasty; and a widely available solution to combat the problem of mineral-deficient modern foods.

Natural, unrefined, unprocessed salt

Did you know that unrefined sea salt such as Celtic salt, mineral salt, Himalayan salt, and the natural salts found in saltpans are probably your best source of minerals? A quarter teaspoon (1.5 grams) per day will give you most of the minerals your body needs. Most of these minerals exist in micro-doses, in just the right proportion that you need for good health and longevity. The cost is negligible, and they have been proven in traditional diets around the world for thousands of years. Salt pans, mineral muds, and crystallised sea salt have always been valued by both humans and animals in the wild.

Himalayan Rock Salt
Himalayan Rock Salt

After sodium chloride (salt), the main mineral in unrefined sea salt is magnesium, which virtually everyone needs more of. Up to five percent of the weight of dry sea salt is a healthy and symbiotic mix of around 100 elements and over 80 additional compounds. This treasure trove of life-giving minerals includes barium, bismuth, boron, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, rubidium, selenium, titanium, vanadium and zinc.

Refined Table Salt

The fine, white, free-flowing refined table salt that you buy in supermarkets bears no resemblance to sea salt, or the mineral salts that naturally occur in saltpans or in the soil. Refined table salt is toxic and dangerous. It is so foreign to the human body that when it is absorbed it eventually causes oedema (water retention) and other degenerative diseases. Your blood pressure will rise, your hands and legs may swell, and a heavy load is placed on your kidneys.

Refined salt is manufactured in the same process as industrial sodium chloride. The original sea salt is treated with lime or caustic soda to remove the magnesium, which fetches a higher price when sold separately to industry. Most of the other valuable elements in the sea salt are also lost or extracted. The manufacturers then add an anti-caking agent such as aluminium silicate or sodium prussiate, bleaches and even white sugar.

Most people on a Standard American Diet (SAD) have a craving for salt. Their bodies are actually craving the other minerals in sea salt. Eating salty processed foods or adding refined table salt makes little difference to their hunger. This addictive property of refined salt is partly responsible for obesity.

Prepared, packaged or processed foods contain excessive quantities of refined salt, especially pretzels, crisps, chips and salted nuts. Eliminating processed foods is the best way to cut down on refined salt.

Either excessive or insufficient salt can cause headaches or migraines. Muscle cramps at night, asthma, or a feeling of faint or dizziness may be indicators of a salt and water shortage in your body. Paradoxically, a shortage of salt leads to an increase in the amount of saliva in your mouth. Salt is a natural antihistamine, and people with allergies can try increasing their (unprocessed) salt intake.

What to buy?

The mineral content of sea salt varies widely depending upon what part of the world it came from. You would think all the oceans would have mixed up and averaged out by now, but that is not the case. One of the best is called Celtic salt. It varies in colour from off-white to grey to dark brown, is hygroscopic (attracts water) and feels slightly damp or sticky between the fingers.

Unfortunately, sea salts are becoming increasingly polluted, in line with the world’s oceans. Therefore naturally-occurring rock and lake salts may be a better option.

Pink salts are normally mined rather than evaporated from salt water, so they are usually pure and stable. Natural pink salts are known for their essential trace minerals and their ability to regulate cellular fluid balance. Iron oxide and their abundant essential trace minerals cause their pink colour. Most of the trace minerals are in a colloidal form and inter-connected structure. This means that they are easy to absorb, and they provide a nutrient synergy that exponentially enhances their effect in the body.

The best-known pink salt is Himalayan salt. However, other pink salts come from Australia, Hawaii, Peru, Poland and Utah in the USA.

When you buy salt, look at the mineral analysis if it is available. I recently bought a packet of Lake Crystal Australian Lake Salt. There was no analysis on the packet, so I emailed the manufacturer asking for the mineral contents. I was shocked to discover that it is 99% sodium chloride – almost the same as a factory-refined salt. Try to buy coloured (not white) unrefined natural salts that have at least 5% other minerals.

Iodine. Unfortunately, unrefined unprocessed salt is not usually a good source of iodine. Iodine is one essential element that you will need to get elsewhere.

How much to use?

A healthy adult needs about a quarter teaspoon of mineral-rich salt per day. If you are exercising and sweating a lot, you need more. However, the average person on a modern Western diet eats about nine times more, consuming one and a half teaspoons (nine grams) of refined salt per day. This causes all sorts of problems, mainly because the salt has been refined (see below).

If you are eating organic food grown on rich soils, you will get most of the minerals you need from that food. However, that is not the case for most people, especially those living in Australia with its ancient and barren soils. I usually add a pinch of Celtic salt to the food I have just prepared. When used this way there is little danger of overdosing, and your food tastes noticeably better with the natural rather than refined salt.

Low Salt Diets

A low salt diet is a mistake. Dr. Michael Alderman, head of epidemiology at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and president of the American Society of Hypertension, has shown that people on low salt diets are less healthy. He suggests that the obsession with low salt diets today is misdirected, and has come about because people are eating refined salt rather than natural sea salt. You should not restrict the amount of unprocessed sea salt in your diet that feels right. If you live in a hot environment, exercise heavily or drink a lot of water, you may need to add a little unrefined salt to your food to replace that lost in your sweat and urine.

Do not avoid healthy, natural salts. Use them to flavour your food, and to help with many ailments, especially allergies.

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