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Healthy salt?

So here’s another public health stuff up for you.  Add this to the list of things you have been avoiding for no reason, which already includes the dangers of raw milk and the evils of cholesterol.  Good news, it turns out that there’s not really any conclusive evidence that salt actually causes high blood pressure, and not getting enough salt is most likely more dangerous than too much salt.  See all the details here.



However, not all salts are the same (see this article):
  • sea salt - evaporated directly from sea water
  • rock salt - mined from deposits of salt from old seas (where sea level has changed)
  • table salt - sea salt or rock salt that is refined to almost pure sodium chloride with optional added iodine
This left me wondering which salt I should be using.  At different times I have used iodised table salt, non-iodised table salt, rock salt (particularly Himilayan) and sea salt (the one most recently was "evaporated naturally in ponds and stirred by hand using wooden paddles" in Spain!).  As usual, I want to eat what is best for my health, but ideally, it should also be made locally and not create any environmental problems or excessive energy usage.

According to this article, the composition of salt is important:
Unrefined salts, whether mined from the earth or harvested from the sea, contain a broad spectrum of trace elements, often in the same balance as are found in human blood. These include magnesium and potassium, necessary for health and which help the body metabolise the sodium better. Indeed, potassium and magnesium work synergistically with sodium to regulate water balance and nerve and muscle impulses.
And that really rules out the refined salt for me.  The issue of iodine is complicated though.  The iodine content of rock or sea salt is relatively low, the best sources of iodine are seafoods (including seaweed), as they concentrate the iodine from seawater.  I don't have access to fresh seafood, so I really don't eat enough sea products to get sufficient iodine in my diet.  When I had my hair tested for mineral content, I was iodine deficient   At the time I bought iodine drops to take, this is the same iodine that is added to the refined salt, but I get to control the dose.  I also bought seaweed meal (from the stockfeed store) and add that to bread and other meals to increase our iodine intake more naturally.  I'd rather be conscious of the dose I'm taking than be mass-medicated through my salt.

Back to the salt.  If the choice is between Himalayan rock salt and Spanish sea salt, I was still really confused about which salt to buy, as neither are local and I wasn't sure if rock was better than sea.  Turns out that the main difference between the two is that sea salt is more likely to contain contamination from sea pollution, whereas the rock salt, coming from old seas prior to pollution, is more likely to be clean.  So I was sold on the rock salt idea, but I wanted to find something more local... you'd think that hot dry Australia would have some kind of salt to be mined!

And that's when I found Murray River Salt.  This salt is a bit different again, its evaporated from a saline aquifer, so its old salt like the rock salt, but it doesn't have to be mined.  Even better, this is saline water that would otherwise end up in the Murray River.  I don't know how much of a difference it really makes to the salinity problem, and I still think that Peter Andrews has the right idea about how to deal with the wider issue, but in the meantime, on balance this company is surely doing more good than harm.  AND they are located in a rural area and creating jobs there, which is fantastic.

What salt do you eat?



Comments

  1. We can buy this easily around here so don't put me in the draw. It's marketed more as a gourmet food item but you make some great points. Buddy Boy has a sluggish thyroid. I don't like to medicate so give him fish oil daily. It seems to have improved his thyroid function. Can't get the girls to touch it though. They hate it.

    I had a giggle about sourcing salt though. I was waiting for you to get to the bit where we need to source salt from faerie ponds, collected by monks and extracted by unicorns while they sing the Australian National Anthem!

    Interesting post as always.

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  2. The salt conundrum highlights how a little information can cause a huge drama. Simple health findings like "SOME people with high blood pressure should avoid salt" became "salt is bad for everyone and causes blood pressure and heart disease". I have never given up my salt. I did switch for a while to veggie salt but I have come to the conclusion that we need all things in normal moderation to get a balance. I would like to see more conclusive research on the metabolism and absorption of food rather than individual food stuffs themselves. I love the pink of the Murray River salt and have tried the flakes which look really attractive served in little dishes.

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  3. I love how you do all the research and then present it to us in an easy to read format - great for lazy people like me who always intend to the the research, but never get around to it. I think living in this hot climate where we sweat so much we must be losing so much salt, so I think limiting our salt intake has to be relative to where we live.

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  4. I have seen a few reviews of different salts on TV lately. It does get confusing with lots of good/bad information. I do get a bit fussy about the salt I use and tend to favour Australian ones. Thanks for offering another great giveaway.

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  5. I don't eat salt (because I don't like the taste)but I use it in pickles and the like. My sister is a fan of the Murray River salt which a local store sells. I will pass the info on to her too.

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  6. Iodine IS important if you don't want to look like Marty Feldman... there is an iodine shortage in food in Tasmania and a fair percentage of "Marties" wandering around. I use Himilayan rock salt and massell stock powder (Aussie made and amazing stuff) to get my salty goodness. I have stopped paying much attention to what is good for you and what isn't...what is WORSE for you than most foods (if they are natural and wholesome) is stress! Stressing about what you are eating...stressing about what you weigh...stressing about everything will kill you faster than salt can even hope to (if it is, indeed, the murderous condiment that we have been led to believe it is ;) ). Maybe I should head around the corner and harvest some Bass Strait sea water? I could make my OWN salt then ;). Can we followers who are already following enter the draw? I am a salt fiend of old and supporting local endeavours is my creed. A bit more localised than the Himilayan but I bet it tastes as good ;).

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  7. Thanks for this great post. I've heard a lot about Murray River salt particularly after I wrote about La Tartine sourdough on my blog and how their salt of choice is Murray River. But I've never bought it myself, so would love to try it. x

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  8. This is really interesting. I've always bought iodised salt because I figured they were adding it for a reason. It is highly purified though, so a sea/rock salt would probably do me more good. Do you think there is much iodine in the seaweed wrapped around sushi rolls? I eat that a fair bit.

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  9. Thank you for the fantastic giveaway. Am a follower on facebook


    amber.boyce@hotmail.com

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  10. I have seen it in a few gourmet stores before but did not know much about it. Thanks for posting I would love to be in the give away.

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  11. Salt just aint salt eh... I suppose I shouldn't be surprised but I am. Thanks for sharing the info :)

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  12. We have been using Celtic Sea Salt for years but after reading your post etc. I am now searching for Murray River Salt. We live in Far North Queensland and haven't been able to get any locally yet but I'm sure if I ask enough times, someone will soon have some on the shelves.

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  13. Interesting. I like that the grinder is refillable too, not all of them are.

    Barb.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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