Let’s Talk Salt

by Susan on July 22, 2010

We can not live without salt. It is essential to many of our bodies functions. Did you know that along with water, the right kind of salt can actually help regulate your blood pressure? It helps promote a healthy ph balance in your cells and promotes bone strength. Salt has many other health benefits. But...all salt is not the same!

Your normal table salt (traditional iodized salt) is not the salt I am talking about. It has been cleaned with chemicals, heated at high temperatures and rendered into something that your body sees as a foreign substance. The big problem is that processed foods are loaded with this toxic salt. Your body doesn’t like this “industrial” salt. It can create a fluid imbalance that contributes to high blood pressure and other issues. The topper is that toxic chemicals such as aluminum hydroxide are used as preservatives in common table salt.

What salt is the best? I now only use Himalayan Salt in my raw food recipes. First, it is said to be the purest salt on earth. Second, the flavor is amazing. Nothing else comes close. And a tiny bit is all you need to add that special little touch.

Himalayan Salt contains 84 trace minerals. Mined at the foothills of the Himalayas, it comes from deep inside the earth from the largest salt range in the earth. Dating back to the Precambrian age, these salts are said to be pure and free from the polluting agents that are found in most of today’s environments. They are still mined by hand.

In raw food recipes, Himalayan salt can bring out flavor, balance flavors and add a greatly desired dimension to food. Using Himalayan salt can actually add health benefits, too. That said…a tiny bit is all you need. When I say a pinch of salt in the recipes here, I really mean a very small pinch. Literally about 1/16th of a teaspoon.

There are many topical uses for Himalayan salt, too. Rashes, bug bites, mouth rinses, nasal rinses…do a quick search on google and you will find some great tips.

Note: If you are on a salt-restricted diet for health reasons, I would consult with your doctor before adding any salt to your diet.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Chantal July 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I am a big salt fan, and an even bigger Himalayan salt fan, but considering that it’s so popular nowadays, I’m concerned for the product’s sustainability. This has been a real dilemma in my salt choices actually! Himalayan salt is now being mined and shipped to the four corners of the world, probably stripping the foothills of the mountains more than ever… I’m just worried about how long this will be able to keep going on before we realized we’ve over-used another natural resource! Everything is finite after all :(

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Raw Candy July 22, 2010 at 9:53 pm

My fave salts are sea salt, and pink Himalayan salt. Recently, my local Whole Foods has started carrying a variety of flavoured salts, and I’m dying to try one in particular — a smoked salt!

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Susan July 23, 2010 at 6:15 am

I have the smoked salt. It is delish…but being smoked, I only use a tiny bit.

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Roni July 23, 2010 at 4:20 am

I was actually a participant in a salt-tasting study… The big pink salts were always the nicest… ^.^

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Dot D. July 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

Susan and friends of Raw foods,

From what I’ve been reading, ALL salt contains sodium chloride, no matter from where it’s mined. What our bodies really need, and only a small ratio, is “sodium.” Sodium, a “natural salt,” is found in vegetables…..the more common ones being Romaine lettuce, celery, baby spinach, etc. We ingest many more times the amount our bodies need hidden within ingredients like Nama Shoyu and Miso…..up to 4,000 mg more! We only require 500 mg for our bodies to get the right amounts to function optimally.

From a chart I had been reading, most salts, even Himalayan, contain 98% sodium chloride (a deadly ingredient). Celtic Sea Salt contains 83% with 10% moisture, and Fleur de Sel is 85% with moisture. Take the moisture out and you’ve got 95% sodium chloride in these…..all of which amounts to nearly the same as refined table salt at 99% !! Scary huh?

All these facts and more are listed at http://www.cspinet.org/salt/ and from the Center for Science in the Public Interest; Dr. S. Graham, Dr. R. Trall, Dr. H. Shelton, all renowned in the field of raw foods; and Institutions like the Deakin University School of Exercies and Nutrition Sciences, and the World Action on Salt (WASH) to name a few.

Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but since being on this diet, I have discovered there is too much salt in my body already that is being shed thru my feet. They are like huge balloons!! I realize that my age (61) is also a factor, having had a lifetime to destroy my health, but for the younger set….my recommendation is for you to eliminate salt from your diets completely! At 80-100% Raw, you get your 500 mg the natural way – no problem!!!

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Susan July 23, 2010 at 8:43 am

All salt is mostly sodium chloride. My point here is not to tell people that they should start consuming tons of salt. Actually if you read, I suggest that you only need a tiny bit for flavoring. But…there are huge differences in salt. So, if I am going to use salt, I want to use a healthy salt, not an unhealthy salt.

As always, we need to keep in mind the whole concept of biochemical diversity. Everyone is different. What might cause problems for you, might be salvation for someone else. Everyone’s bodies need different things. You need to figure out if salt works for you or not. And once again…I only recommend a tiny amount if you are using it.

Sodium Chloride is not a deadly ingredient. It can be if you consume too much but so can water. Your extracellular fluid (the fluid in your body that is outside of your cells in your body) contains sodium chloride. Without it, you could not survive. “Sodium chloride—also known as salt—is necessary to help your body maintain fluid balance, help your muscles relax and your nerves transmit signals. Sodium chloride also helps maintain normal blood pressure.”

You might want to check out Dr. Mercola’s post on Himalayan salt. You can find it here: Himalayan Salt

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Dot D. July 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

Susan,
Thanks for the clarification, and while I agree with you that a tiny bit is best, and from a trusted source as well, the article I quoted states that sodium chloride causes HBP leading to stroke and a number of other health conditions. Written by doctors, tested in labs, etc. Natural sodium is best.

I have not found Dr. Mercola to be the best source for information. He did a job on Agave Nectar a few months back, and frightened a number of raw fooders along the way. I wonder, at times, whose side he’s on! Buyer beware, I guess is the answer.

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scherry valentine July 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

I buy SunFire salt from Radical Health. It is so amazing! It’s a combination of Himalyan, Bolivian Rose. I use it for salt flushes and I even put 1/2 teaspoon in 32 ounces of pure spring water that I bottle myself from the source and drink daily. I have experienced many wonderful things since I started using premium/pristene salt in this way. Magnetism being only one. There is a book out there about the therapeutic uses of salt and water that explains why we need it. Wish I could remember the name……Also many good articles about it’s use at radicalhealth.com too. Cheers!

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Kelly Parr July 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

Amazing what a little “pinch of salt” conversation will stir up! Reading each one’s expertise adds much flavor to the pot! Thank’s to all as I have learned a lot this morning.
Now bear with me as a thought just came to mind…sometimes I wonder if a “pinch of salt” is not just a “generational” thing; a learned behavior- something we have always heard in the kitchen. My mother always said and did it.. my grandmother always said and did it and I can even remember my Great-grandmother saying only add just “a pinch of salt!” I could never figure out why and to be honest I can’t really taste just “a pinch” one way or another! So it’s almost as if no matter what people say… good or bad.. I must add a “pinch of salt” into everything – just in case! :)
But I have discovered the SMOKED sea salt and WOW… with just “a pinch” …that BOLD taste I can tell!
Thanks Susan for stirring the pot and thanks to all for adding a great flavor!

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Jinny July 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

You should give black Himalyan salt a try, taste just like eggs due to the high sulfur content. Great to put on the flesh of a young coconut…also great in any raw dish that needs an eggs taste. I know rawfoodworld.com carries it.

The salt book reference above, if the same one is by Dr Brownstein.

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Patricia Robinett July 23, 2010 at 1:02 pm

table salt is a byproduct of the mining industry. sea water is cheaper to mine than land. they evaporate sea water, remove the precious minerals, and sell the dregs to the public as “food”. the same product is sold for tanning hides, melting ice off streets, etc.

sodium chloride – even iodized – is not real food. white salt is like white flour or white sugar. it took years for goiters to develop in the first population that used white table salt. many diseases begin long before there are noticeable symptoms. so the salt company then put a little token bit of iodine back in and called it ‘good’.

bipolar disorder is caused by lithium deficiency and lithium is another naturally occurring mineral that has been removed from table salt. no one knows what other diseases might be due to mineral deficiencies caused by substituting white sparkly processed salt for full-spectrum, food grade, unprocessed – other than evaporated – sea salt.

natural sea salt – celtic salt – or any salt straight from the ocean that has not been heated or robbed of its precious minerals – contains all the minerals that are naturally present in our intercellular fluids – and in the same proportions. we need every mineral and although there are 84 in himalayan salt, the periodic table currently shows 114. that’s a difference of 30 minerals that are missing in himalayan salt.

it’s possible that many of our modern diseases stem from mineral deficiency. we need all the minerals to function well. don’t settle for anything less than the real thing. and at the same time, you don’t need a lot of it. a little real salt goes a very long way.

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Rene Oswald July 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Have you heard of Himalayan Kala Namak Sea Salt?
Another common name for this salt is Indian Black Salt or Sanchal even though the salt crystals are actually light pink with a grayish tinge. This salt, which has a strong cooked egg odor, is mined in Central India and is very high in trace minerals. It has an amazing similarity to the flavor of hard boiled eggs, especially when used with any dish you create using avocado. I love it! It’s available on my site at http://rawfoodrene.com (click on Food Items on the left side of the page)

Many people have had relief from previous problems with fluid retention and swelling in their legs when they eat a plant-based diet and only use these Himalayn sea salts.

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shelleen July 23, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Hey! this coming Monday, July 26 is the Full Moon. It is said that a “Soul Bath” can help detox, re-engergize, and rebalance your body!! 1 Cup of Himalayan Sea Salt in Luke Warm water, bathe between 9pm and 3am. Make sure you save time to Air Dry!! Enjoy!

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Cojo July 23, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I am also concerned about the sustainability of Himalayan salt. How do we know that the Himalayan salt companies are abiding by humane labor practices? Since I don’t know, I usually stick to Celtic Sea Salt (from Portugal) since I’ve met the people in that company and know for a fact that the salt mining is sustainable & humane. Check them out!
Thanks,
Cojo

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myrecessionkitchen July 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I want to caution those that may be allergic to shell fish that they may want to avoid eating Himalayan salt. It gets it’s pink color from ancient shell fish. I find that I can’t use it.

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Susan July 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm

My research indicates that the pink color comes from iron oxide and other trace minerals that are present in the salt.

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Diana @ frontyardfoodie July 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Yummy! I stopped using anything but sea salt that hasn’t been put through the ringer. I do love salt but definitely use it in moderation. That’s how I’m eight and a half months pregnant and have low blood pressure, only have gained ten pounds and have had no swelling despite the fact that it’s near 100 degrees out there!

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Margaret July 24, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I was born “salt-free” or something like that. I grew up in a Southern (American) household where salt and pepper were always on the table, but was always confused when I asked for someone to pass the pepper and the salt came along. I did not like butter until I left home and found un-salted butter.
When I left home and started to cook for myself, I learned that certain things did certainly need salt (but they were always cooked foods: grits, bread.) Can’t say as I know about meat because I don’t use that food. When I went raw, I had no more use for salt until I found raw food books and “fancy recipes” (about 20 years after I had gone raw). If I am following a recipe from a book, the first time, I add the salt to see what happens (most often, I will find the food too salty)
When I create recipes for other people, I do include salt because I understand that most people want that flavor/need that ingredient. I test my recipes both ways (salt/no salt) on my non-raw room-mate, to see what other people like.

Salt is not necessary in a balanced raw vegan diet, as vegetables contain sodium. If you feel a need for sodium, celery is high in sodium (and I have never liked it), as do sea vegetables (which I do like, on occasion, but not as a regular addition to my food — I suspect that, when my body needs sodium, that is when I want seaweed salads.)

As I see it, most people use much more salt than they need. That is my take as a nutritionist, and, of course, as a “non-salt” person. (I keep a salt shaker full of sea salt for when people come for dinner – that is the only condiment they usually ask for. I bought a half-pound of salt last October, and the jar it is in is still half full.)

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Jo July 25, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Our bodies truly need more GOOD SALT — MINERAL SALT – (not the restaurant/store bought salt that has been heated and de mineralized) however, GOOD SALT IS A MUST FOR LOWERING THE ACID OF OUR BODIES. A new book just out written by Robert O. Young PhD. and wife Shelley Redford Young – “pHmiracle” : Revised and Updated July 2,2010 from Amazon.Com $11 dollars, book has good information on right salt. green foods, right oils Omega 3’s. Information how to balance the body and keep it more alkaline also wife Shelley has included many good raw recipes. This would be helpful to majority in knowing “New Biology” information. At present I am on a Raw Cleanse, using my Liquid Salt full of minerals of the Great Salt Lake, from the http://www.phmiracleliving.com web page. Hope this helps. I also have switched to using Hemp Oil that I buy at Sprouts Market or Henry’s here in S. Calif. I add the oil and liquid salt to my drinks also I carry a small purse size of liquid mineral salt PhFlavor. I no longer take blook pressure medicine and off all of my heart meds since adding the good salt and good oils, and eliminating sugar switching to stevia packets for sweetner when needed. No more carbonated drinks – I use squeezed fresh lime or lemon in alkaline water sweetened with green leaf stevia ( stevia is name of a S. American plant and the leaves when squeezed of juice give a sweet taste that is 300s sweeter than sugar so best to ouse liquid with dropper or stevia in packets ). Lastly, when haveing to fight any upset stomach or needing to be less acidic, I use Robert and Shelly Young’s pHour Salts — this is not for food flavor. These 4 salts combined need be mixed in glass of water about 1/4 t. and mixed when injested will alkaline the stomach and take away any heart burn, this is also good for mouth rince to alkaline the mouth and good for tooth paste replacement. Has about 40 uses. I usually mix a glass full of NaHCO3, KHC03, MgHCO3, CaHco3. English of the 4 salts is Sodium Bicarbonate, Manesium Bicarbonate, Potassium Bicarbonate and Calcium Bicarbonate. Directons are to mix 1 scoop with 6 oz water of purified water daily. Use 1 time a day. This is also a wonderful foot soak, put in bathwater, general cleanser. Helps keep the body in alkaline design.

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Elizabeth July 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I am sad to say I have yet to buy the Himalayan salt. I use sea salt.
Peace and Health,
E

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nakedjen July 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

This is a truly fascinating conversation. I have actually been the victim of “too much water” and also suffered from “not enough salt” (although in the latter case I believe it was a real imbalance of essential minerals).

Yesterday, my niece was at my house for dinner. She asked for salt. I handed her a mason jar from my cupboard that contained “salt” that I harvested from the Great Salt Lake myself. It is clearly not white and is quite chunky. I told her that just a tiny smidge of pinch was necessary.

Because I am her “crazy hippie aunt” she just grinned and agreed to try it.

I’ve used the Himalayan Salt for years, but now that I live here, in Salt Lake, have decided to go “local” and harvest from that resource instead. So far, so good.

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Joyce Cherrier July 26, 2010 at 9:16 am

Great post Susan. I have to admit that although I buy Hain’s sea salt, I didn’t know about Himalayan salt and why I should be using it. I also enjoyed the other comments and all the info. I really learned a lot about salt! :)

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Sharyn Cook July 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I am a big fan of the Himalayan Salt. I have been selling it for 5 years now after finding it as the solution I was looking for, for my clients. Specificially fibro myalgia sufferers. Taking the brine solution (sole) helps to fuel the electrolyte system and replenish mineral deficiencies in the cell.

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Angie August 13, 2010 at 10:45 am

Hello Susan !
First of all, thanks for the superb article. I am a salt fan myself ;) (in tiny amounts though)
But as much as I love Himalayan salt, I now prefer fleur de sel, Guérande salt and other “regional” alternatives…
Did you know that the mining going on in the Himalayas is robbing quite a lot of salt and producing a lot of pollution and destruction along the way ? It has to come all the way to our countries and so, a lot of CO2 is produced in the process.
Himalaya salt is not only famous for its purity in cooking, but also it is widely used to make “crystals” and lamps, as it gives off ions that are known to purify the atmosphere when the salt is slightly heated up. So, the drilling, mining etc etc, is very big around that salt, as there is a huge demand, ever growing as a matter of fact.
The question I would like to raise here, is, can we afford, because something is labelled as “pure” and “healthy”, to overwork our resources ? Is this truly sustainable in the long run ?

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Anne October 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I trust your (Susan’s) thoroughness but still do my own research. You are one of my trusted sources. Dr. Mercola is radical but he’s right on in most cases. As far as agave is concerned, it has recently been known as the equivalent of HFCS. If you know how it is processed, you will agree it’s far from natural. They don’t just stick a tap into the cactus. In fact, in its natural state, it’s inedible. You give us alternatives in your recipes. I like honey or maple syrup. Both are processed to some degree. Lately, we’ve been buying raw organic honey. The only inconvenience is that you have to dig it out with a spoon; it doesn’t slow pour at all. We are far too addicted to sugar and could do with much less in recipes. There is a list somewhere on the internet that lists which are natural sugars and which are not.

Salt is controversial. I know that we need it for healthy fluid balance but not the industrial salt. We don’t cook with it but add a “pinch” afterwards in soups and stews, bean salads, etc. Sometimes we just flavor with herbs and spices. I read an article about fluid loss and dehydration. Sodium is one of the essential minerals that must be replaced or you could die. There’s more to be said. That’s all from me for now.

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Anne October 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Just a note about the captcha codes–if you put in spaces that appear there, it will be rejected. It’s also tricky about whether or not it is a capital letter or lower case. I had to type mine four times before it was accepted.

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Brian September 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

I am on a raw food diet and find that a bit of celtic salt on my salad adds the flavor needed to not make my food taste monotimous.

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