Salt is a necessary nutrient, and in fact, much of early human history revolved around the human need for it. (There’s a riveting book on the history of salt, which is worth a read and discusses, among other things, culinary practices of ancient Egypt, Rome, China, etc.). Anyway, salt is necessary for proper cellular functioning, BUT there is actually a big difference between table salt and unrefined sea salt. Unrefined sea salt (in small quantities, of course) is a very important food for health.
This is what Sally Fallon (in Nourishing Traditions) says about table (refined) salt:
“Few people realize that our salt– like our sugar, flour, and vegetable oils– is highly refined; it is the product of a chemical and high-temperature industrial process that removes the valuable magnesium salts as well as trace minerals naturally occurring in the sea. To keep salt dry, salt refiners adulterate this ‘pure’ product with several harmful additives, including aluminum compounds. To replace the natural iodine salts that are removed during processing, potassium iodide is added… To stabilize the volatile iodide compound, processors add dextrose which turns the iodized salt a purplish color. A bleaching agent is then necessary to restore whiteness to the salt” (Nourishing Traditions, 48).
On the other hand,
“Sun dried sea salt contains traces of marine life that provide organic forms of iodine… [But] even most so-called sea salt is produced by industrial methods. The best and most health-promoting salt is extracted by the action of the sun in clay-lined vats. Its light gray color indicates a high moisture and trace mineral content. This natural salt contains only about 82 percent sodium chloride; it contains 14 percent macro-minerals, particularly magnesium, and nearly 80 trace minerals” (ibid.)
She goes on to say that the best source of unrefined sea salt is the salt from the salt marshes of Brittany.
Health Benefits of Unrefined Sea Salt
* Helps regulate blood pressure
* Helps ease adrenal fatigue
* Strengthens the immune system
* Contains a ton of magnesium, deficiency of which can cause irritability, weight gain, decalcification (brittle teeth and bones)
* Promotes healing of acne, eczema and psoriasis
* Anti-histamine (clears phlegm and congestion in lungs and nose)
* Benefits diabetics by helping regulate blood sugar levels
* Helps remove excess acidity from cells
Unrefined Salt is Expensive– Is it Worth It? (I don’t know)
Compared to the cardboard cylinders of iodized salt you buy at the grocery store, real salts are expensive. And I don’t know if it’s worth it, to be honest. But I think a lot of Americans are buying cheap food that isn’t nourishing to the body and at the same time paying a huge amount of money to treat medical conditions that might be, or might have been, prevented by better nutrition. I don’t know where the balance is when it comes to stuff like this, because there are actually people who don’t have any food at all, let alone fancy sea salts from France, you know? And I don’t want to be one of those people who spends a ton on groceries just so my family and I can be in tip top health while others have so little. I would love to hear some other people’s thoughts on this.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon