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Linda Meneses, Certified Health Educator, USA and Portugal

Posted:June 2007

Alchemy of Nutrition: Table Salt vs. Organic Sea Salt

In our quest for health it is very important for us to understand the difference between table salt and organic (unrefined) sea salt. Salt and sodium are used interchangeably but this is not correct. Salt is sodium chloride which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride by weight. These two minerals need to be in a constant dynamic balance for they get nutrients and waste across the cell membrane. If there is too much or too little of these two minerals the permeability of cell membranes is compromised and therefore intra- and extra-cellular pressure. Salt is necessary for fluid balance, electrolyte balance and pH (acid/alkaline) balance. It also is necessary to the production of hydrochloric acid which is the digestive enzyme secreted by the stomach to break down protein. Along with potassium, salt is required for the proper function of nerves and contraction of muscles. It is important to the absorption of potassium. And it also enhances the ability of the blood to carry carbon dioxide from respiring tissues to the lungs. So it is easy to see that salt is essential to health but not all forms of it are healthy.

It is well known that excessive salt contributes to the development of high blood pressure. According to recent studies it is also associated with strokes, calcium deficiency and osteoporosis, fluid retention, weight gain, stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Yet reducing sodium too much can be just as harmful as consuming large amounts of it. Too little can cause spasms, poor heart rhythms, sudden death and even increase the risk of heart attack in hypertensive patients. Beside the salt consumed in processed foods, we should be aware that our skin is very efficient at absorbing salt from salt softened water. And of course drinking this salt softened water elevates sodium levels.

Commercial table salt used in our food and to soften water is the furthest thing from ideal. During the refining of table salt, natural sea salt or rock salt is stripped of more than 60 trace minerals and essential macro-nutrients. This salt is stripped of all its minerals (beside sodium and chloride) and heated at such high temperatures that the chemical structure of the salt changes. In addition, it is chemically cleaned and bleached and treated with anti-caking agents which prevent salt from mixing with water in the salt container. Unfortunately the anti-caking agents perform the same function in the human body, so refined salt does not dissolve and combine with the water and fluids present in our system. Instead it builds up in the body and leaves deposits in organs and tissue, causing severe health problems like hyperthyroidism. Two of the most common anti-caking agents used in the mass production of salt are sodium alumino-silicate and alumino-calcium silicate. These are both sources of aluminum, a toxic metal that has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The aluminum used in salt production leaves a bitter taste, so manufactures usually add sugar in the form of dextrose to hide the taste of the aluminum. Refined sugar is associated with the development of more than 60 diseases.

Whether you consider the minerally unbalanced condition of table salt, the anti-caking agents that prevent salt from doing some of its most important jobs in the body, or the chemicals and sugar that are added to it, table salt should be avoided.

There is an alternative to commercial table salt. Organic (unrefined) sea salt contains minerals and trace minerals, good salts, the body can use for many of the roles sodium plays. Organic Sea Salt is harvested near the coast. Ocean water is channeled into a series of clay-lined ponds. The wind and sun evaporate the ocean water, leaving a mineral-rich brine. This live mixture is briskly stimulated by the salt farmer, and dazzling salt crystals form. This salt is then gathered by hand using wooden tools. This harvesting method preserves the vital balance of the minerals we need. Even many salts labeled “sea salt” are washed or boiled, which removes minerals and trace elements from the salt so look for “organic” sea salt or Fleur de Sal which is the salt that floats to the top of salt ponds crystallized by the sun. It makes perfect sense that we depend on this mother mixture for our health since life started in the briny ocean.

Comparison of the Mineral Elements in Natural Celtic Sea (organic sea salt) Salt vs. Other Salts

Minerals

Celtic Salt

Partially refined Sea Salt or mined salt

Refined -  Table Salt

Group 1
Sodium & chlorine (NaCl = Sodium Chloride)

84%

98%

97.5%

Group 2
Sulfur, magnesium, calcium & potassium

14%

1%

none

Group 3
Carbon, bromine, silicon, nitrogen, ammonium, fluorine, phosphorus, iodine, boron, lithium

1.9997%

1%

none

Group 4
Argon, rubidium, copper, barium, helium, indium, molybdenum, nickel, arsenic, uranium, manganese, vanadium, aluminum, cobalt, antimony, silver, zinc, krypton, chromium, mercury, neon, cadmium, erbium, germanium, xenon, scandium, gallium, zirconium, lead, bismuth, niobium, gold, thulium, thallium, Ianthanum, neodymium, thorium, cerium, cesium, terbium, ytterbium, yttrium, dysprosium, selenium, lutetium, hafnium, gadolinium, praseodymium, tin, beryllium, samarium, holmium, tantalum, europium

0.0003 %

none

none

Group 5
All chemical additives which bleach, prevent water absorption, stabilize iodine additives, maintain free flow

none

none

up to 2.5%

Important Note: Please consult with your physician, naturopath or holistic doctor before making any substantial changes in your diet. We always recommend that you be prudent when shifting your diet.

2007 copyright Linda Meneses

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