It’s true. The “experts” have been spouting their anti-salt propaganda for a long time, but they. are. wrong. Salt is good for us! However, as with all other things, the highly-processed version is so far removed from the original version that God gave us that it is no longer healthy. Salt isn’t bad for us, the processing of salt is what is bad.
We’ve all heard that a low-sodium diet is important for controlling high blood pressure, right? It’s not quite that simple. When you eat refined salt, all you’re getting is sodium chloride and “anti-clumping agents”. Excessive sodium chloride increases your blood pressure because the body attempts to dilute the salt in the blood by adding more water. Extra water in the blood increases the pressure, so your heart has to work harder to pump the blood and your circulatory system is put under a lot of stress by the extra pressure. With me, so far?
Minerals That Decrease Blood Pressure
So, sodium chloride is a mineral that increases blood pressure, by itself. Did you know that there are other minerals out there that decrease blood pressure? (The amounts listed are for one cup, unless otherwise noted).
- Potassium: found in Swiss chard (cooked=960mgs), potato (925), spinach (cooked=840mgs), papaya (780 mgs), avocados (700 mgs), tomato (425 mgs),banana (420 mgs).
- Magnesium: found in pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup=190 mgs), spinach (156mgs), Swiss chard (150mgs), black beans (120 mgs), sunflower seeds (1/4 cup=115 mgs), cashews (1/4 cup=100 mgs).
- Calcium: found in yogurt (450 mgs), milk (300 mgs), sardines (3 oz=340 mgs), cooked spinach (245mgs), cheese (1 oz=220 mgs), turnip greens (200mgs), scallops (4 oz=130 mgs), Swiss chard (cooked=100mgs).
Eating these foods (and many other ones not listed here) will give you plenty of these blood pressure reducing minerals. By the way, did you notice that Swiss Chard made it as a good source on each list? Guess where else you can find these minerals…
Minerals in Unrefined Sea Salt
When sea salt is first harvested, it is chock full of minerals! It contains the three listed above, as well as many others. When eaten in it’s unrefined form, sea salt doesn’t increase blood pressure because the sodium is balanced out by all of the other minerals! This is how God made it and, yes, He knew what He was doing. The sodium isn’t “bad”. It’s actually necessary for health. When balanced by the other minerals, it’s a very good thing.
While pregnant, I could generously salt my foods with unrefined sea salt. No swelling at all. When we ate out or ordered in, though, I would puff up like a marshmallow! The refined salt is nothing but sodium, so it threw off the balance of minerals in my body and caused fluid retention.
The Refining Process
When sea salt is refined, all of the minerals besides the sodium chloride are removed. That pure white salt you see is first chemically treated to remove “impurities”, which is code for calcium, magnesium and the other good minerals. Then they evaporate it several times to make sure that all they have is sodium chloride. Once they’ve stripped it down, they add junk to it.
There are several commonly used additives. The first is an “anti-caking agent”, which doesn’t have to be named, since it’s not an “ingredient”. One of the most popular ones contains aluminum. Peachy, huh? Even better, another one contains “safe” cyanide. After they dose us with anti-clumping agents, they add other random things, sometimes including fluoride, iodine or synthetic vitamins like folic acid. Each company is different, so it’s tough to know exactly what you’re getting.
Using Unrefined Sea Salt
There are two other things I love about unrefined sea salt.
- It is full of flavor! Each type of salt has it’s own unique flavor, due to the different amounts of minerals found in each region. (They also have different colors, from grey to black to pink to red! Fun!) Instead of a slightly chemically taste, which you get from table salt, there is delicious depth to unrefined salt. With all of that flavor, it takes less unrefined salt to flavor food.
- A teaspoon of unrefined salt has less sodium than a teaspoon of refined salt. So, not only are you using less because of the stronger flavor, but what you are using actually has less sodium chloride in it. It’s all about balance!
My favorite salt to use is this finely ground Celtic sea salt. It has a high mineral content and excellent flavor. (If you’d like to learn more about salt, click on the link*.)
Are you salt-shy? Will you be switching from refined to unrefined sea salt?
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