Monday, August 31, 2009

Sea Salt vs. Refined Salt


     I have been asked why I use sea salt in my recipes. After all, salt is salt and it's all bad for you, right? Actually, the human body needs some salt to maintain electrolyte balance and healthy bodily functions. Blood pressure, nerve and muscle function are all dependant on sodium. The brain is extremely sensitive to sodium levels.
I've seen first hand the effects of low sodium levels. Hyponatremia is a below-normal level of sodium in the blood. When the sodium levels in the blood are too low, it can cause loss of appetite, weakness, muscle spasms, hallucinations, headache, and confusion. My father had all of those symptoms last year as a result of  hyponatremia caused by all the drugs he was given after knee replacement surgery. Hyponatremia can cause seizures, coma and death if not corrected. It's pretty scary stuff.

    Some salt is necessary to the body. The problem lies in the processing. Extreme heat and chemicals are used during processing, leaving refined table salt with only sodium and chloride. All other nutrients have been stripped away during the processing. Then anti-caking agents and dextrose(sugar) are added to it. Refined salt is added in large amounts to other processed foods, so if you eat the standard american diet (SAD), you get far too much sodium and it's completely out of balance. Refined table salt is not a whole food.

     Unrefined sea salt has been dried by the sun and wind from clean sea water. It has had nothing removed nor added to it. It contains no anti-caking or bleaching agents. It is usually grayish in color- white sea salt has been refined. Unrefined sea salt contains a natural balance of minerals and trace elements (magnesium, calcium, manganese and many others) that work together, which the body needs. It is a whole food.

     I use Celtic Sea Salt, but no matter what brand you choose, the key is to make sure it is unrefined.

Yesterday we had to go and pickup my daughter at marching band camp. It was about an hour and a half each way, so not much time left for cooking when we got home. Luckily her favorite meal is quick and easy. I made the Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Pine Nuts found here-

I used heirloom yellow tomatoes and fresh basil from my garden and she was very happy!


Feed Me I'm Cranky August 31, 2009 at 10:10 AM  

thanks for this post! i had heard of there being benefits to sea salt but never really knew much about it or how it compared to regular table salt. thanks for sharing!

janet August 31, 2009 at 1:15 PM  

Feed Me I'm Cranky, most people think that sea salt is just for gourmet cooking because it tastes better, but there are actually health reasons to use it.

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