According to a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, “sodium intakes around the world are all in excess of physiological need.” In European and North American countries, excess sodium intake is dominated by salt added to manufactured foods, particularly cereals and baked goods. In Japan, China and other Asian countries, excess sodium was most associated with soy sauce.Ultimately, in order to avoid table salt and other refined varieties, you need to stay away from processed foods. If you take the time to look at the ingredients on food packaging, you’ll notice that sodium pops up in almost every single manufactured food. That’s true even if you don’t actually taste that salt. Companies add this sodium to make their foods taste better, increase its shelf life and keep people coming back for more.
Beyond cutting out processed foods as much as possible, there’s one other key step you can take towards improving your health. Seek out high-quality, natural, unrefined salts. Here’s how.
Finding the best salt for your health
While the scientific literature confirms that too much refined salt can do some serious damage to your health, the same is true if you don’t consume enough salt. A 2011 study that involved more than 6000 participants found that restricting salt actually increased risk of mortality in those with heart failure. Getting sufficient quantities of natural salt in your diet is critical for a range of health reasons:
- Salt makes up a major part of blood plasma, lymphatic fluid and extracellular fluid.
- It helps to transport nutrients through your cell walls.
- It supports healthy adrenal function.
- The right kind of salt maintains and regulates blood pressure.
So how do you know whether you’re buying a high-quality salt that will fulfill all these vital functions or just another bag of white granulated disease? Luckily, there’s a number of varieties that are guaranteed to provide all the health benefits, without the degrading refinement.
Himalayan pink salt
Personally, this is my favorite salt. It has certainly earned something akin to a cult following in the alternative health stratosphere. People derive Himalayan pink salt from ancient, dried-up seabeds near the the modern day Himalayan mountain range. Because the salt is already pre-dried by nature, there’s very little processing required. Essentially, people just dig it up and sift out any solids which aren’t edible. This means that the resultant pink salt is one of the most nutritious and delicious forms of salt available on the market.
Unrefined sea salt
While pink salt is my go-to variety, I like to mix things up occasionally and sprinkle a smattering of unrefined sea salt on my meals every once in awhile. Sea salts derived from different areas contain varied nutrients. It’s always a good idea to regularly change up the source of your salt in order to get a broader spectrum of minerals.
Essentially, look out for anything that says “unrefined,” “unprocessed” or “natural.” This is a surefire way to get your hands on the good stuff. You’ll know it’s legit if the salt you buy isn’t all the same color, as sea salt doesn’t naturally dry out a perfect white. Celtic or real sea salt are two great varieties of salt to consider buying.
What’s your favorite kind of salt? Do you think you’ll struggle to remove table salt from your life? Are you already well on your way to a refined salt-free life? Let us know!
— Liivi Hess