We can’t imagine our food tasting as good as it does if it lacked salt. Although, salt serves many other purposes for our bodies apart from just making our meals delicious. Since we have become more aware of what we consume these days, and what health benefits we can acquire from everything we eat, the consumption of salt & its benefits confuse a lot of people. Many studies show that its consumption is good for us, while a few others have also shown otherwise. So, it’s fair to feel a little bewildered about the choices.
So, is salt bad for us?
Iron and folic acid-rich foods:
Salt isn’t bad for our body. Although, salt through refined and highly-processed food is bad and too much of it can lead to certain problems. The right kind of salts come with a bunch of benefits for our health and cellular metabolism. It basically depends on how much of a particular salt you have been consuming.
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, white salt – also recognized as NaCl - is actually needed by the body. However, you must take care of the fact that when you’re consuming this salt, it isn’t too refined or bleached. It must also be noted that salt-less diets can actually be harmful and quite detrimental to your health. Cutting off or removing salts in their entirety from one’s diet can end up messing up a lot of functions of the body. Consuming only salt-less foods can lead to thyroid issues, a deficiency of iodine, and it can also hamper the growth & development of kids.
It’s ideal to use a mix of white and rock salts (also known as Himalayan salt), so that our bodies can get a variety of trace minerals. A good ratio for this mix would be 30:70, wherein 30% is white salt and 70% is pink salt.
What exactly is the role of salt in our bodies?
Salt plays quite a vital role in maintaining our overall health by being the main provider of sodium and chloride in our diet. It’s also needed for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles in the body. Some other uses of salt for us are:
● Electrolyte balance – Salt is the main contributor of sodium in our body. Potassium, sodium, and calcium are the minerals that are called the electrolytes. They are required for the normal functioning of our cells and organs.
● Flavouring & seasoning – It goes without saying that our food, no matter how many spices we use or in whichever way we cook it, would taste pretty bland without any salt in it. From non-vegetarian to vegetarian dishes, irrespective of the cuisine that we are talking about – salt is the most essential ingredient of cooking and seasoning, without which good food would cease to exist.
● Acts as a disinfectant – Owing to its anti-bacterial properties, salt has been used since a long time as a disinfectant as well as a preservative. Salt can also kill some bacteria by sucking out the water from them.
● A mineral rich salt like pink or black salt is alkaline in nature, which makes it helpful in reducing acidity and for the regulation of bowel movements.
What are the different types of salt that can be beneficial for the body?
Rock Salt or Pink Salt
One of the healthiest and most recommended salts is the pink salt. Also known as the Himalayan salt, it is hygienic, unrefined, and has a slightly lesser sodium content when compared with table salt. Rock salt also contains trace amounts of iron oxide (which gives it its pink colour) and small amounts of magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. It’s great for the body’s digestion process and immunity, and also helps in cleaning out toxicity. It contains 85 trace minerals that are very essential for your immunity. It can also be found in tubers, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Adding rock salt to your diet is a great lifestyle change, particularly for those who suffer from high blood pressure. Like mentioned earlier, since rock salt has over 80 trace minerals, it benefits the health of your muscles, heart, liver, kidney, and brain. A little bit of pink salt in water also acts as a great pre-workout drink. It not only helps with pains and cramps, but also reduces water retention in the body.
However, rock salt also doesn’t suit everyone. If you have high potassium levels in the body (hyperkaliemia), kidney-related problems, thyroid issues, or an iodine deficiency, then rock salt might not be the perfect solution for you.
Black salt is popular for being more flavoursome and pungent. It’s highly recommended in the Ayurveda texts for overall better immunity and health. The alkaline properties of black salt can help not only reduce acidity but can also lessen the damage caused by acid reflux. It can also act as a great laxative for people with problems of constipation and helps regulate the bowel movements. It’s also cooling in nature which is good for the stomach’s lining.
Apart from all these qualities of black salt, it also comes in handy for the issue of bloating by reducing water retention in the body. Like pink salt, black salt also happens to be rich in potassium and can help people with a potassium deficiency. It improves digestion and balances the production of acids and bile juices in the stomach. It also helps stimulate the appetite and is anti-flatulence is nature.
How can you control the intake of salt?
Some of the ways of controlling your salt intake is by reducing the consumption of refined and processed foods. While salt is an integral part of flavouring, you can also explore other ingredients like spices, herbs, tamarind, kokum, kafir lime leaves, lemongrass, bay leaf, etc. so as to reduce the dependency on salt. Another very useful trick is to remove the salt shaker from all the tables in your house – if it’s not within easy reach, its consumption can go down.
It's understandable to have concerns about salt and its intake. Too much of anything can end up being really bad for our body. So, salt should be used in adequate amounts only without depending too much on white or highly-processed salts. And since it does aid a lot of bodily functions and processes, it’s a good idea to give pink or black salt a try!
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