Contrary to popular belief, salt is not the devil. In fact, it’s a necessity — without it, the heart, muscles and brain simply cannot function. For most of us, even for those with hypertension, salt isn’t necessarily the enemy, but the type of salt you may be getting is. Refined salt is a poor food choice. It is devitalized, containing mainly sodium and chloride and has no place in our diet. Whereas unrefined sea salt is a vital substance containing over 80 essential minerals that our bodies require to function optimally.
Here’s how to know the difference and enjoy the taste-enhancing, life-sustaining benefits of unrefined salt without over-indulging:
Table the table salt.
If you’re looking for the enemy, refined salt like table salt or cooking salt is a good place to start. Why? Because by the time salt it hits your table, it’s valuable trace minerals have been baked and bleached out of the salt and it’s been processed into sodium chloride, a chemical that’s toxic to our bodies. So, if you’ve got a box of classic table salt sitting in your pantry here’s an idea – either throw it out or use it to help kill weeds on your front lawn—just don’t sully your food with the stuff.
How about a salt substitute?
Often when patients are advised to limit sodium, their first thought is, “Oh well, just I’ll switch to a salt substitute,” which is simply, not a great idea. Salt substitutes – the ones that try to approximate the taste of table salt – are actually worse than table salt because they contain potassium chloride. So what’s so bad about a little potassium chloride? Well at best, it doesn’t taste very good and at worst, too much of it can actually stop you heart. Granted potassium chloride doesn’t kill that many people all that often, but wouldn’t it just be easier, safer and tastier to eat a little smarter?
Delete the junk.
Processed foods and fast foods are fantastic sources of way too much sodium. Eliminate processed and junk foods from your diet and you can also drop most of your concerns about eating too much salt. Need an example? Take a look at the nutritional label Lean Cuisine’s Baja-Style Chicken Quesadilla. It clocks in at 710 mgs of sodium – or about half of what most of us need in a day. Surely, you deserve better, don’t you think?
But Doc, I need a little flavor!
I’m not saying, no salt – what I am saying is, if you want it, give your body the real thing, unrefined sea salt. This is packed with essential minerals and supplies the body with a proper balance of sodium and chloride and many trace minerals. So what’s the best? Himalayan crystal salt is considered to be top of the line. Why? Because unlike some sea salt, which can come from polluted waters, Himalayan crystal salt is considered to be the highest, purest grade salt on earth, free of impurities and pollutants, and loaded with more than 80 health-supporting minerals that your body can easily absorb. Not surprisingly Himalayan salt will be pricier than your usual table salt, so use it sparingly, treat it like the precious treat that it is — and enjoy!
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Frank Lipman MD is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine. A practicing physician, he is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC and the developer of Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and kits to make healthy living easy for busy people. To hang with Frank, visit his blog, follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook community today.