Salt intake is very often in the center of attention as high sodium intake can cause a lot of healthy problems like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and poor bone development, kidney stones, dehydration or electrolyte and hormonal imbalance.
We know that we should not offer salty foods to our kids, but we very often forget about ourselves. The recommended daily amount for an average adult in the UK is 6000mg - about one teaspoon - however, the average intake is 8100mg a day. For children it is less: babies do not need salt at all, later just a small amount:
- 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
- 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
- 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
- 11 years and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)
How can be any kind of salt healthy?
Iodized saltOr as we mention it in everyday talk: table salt. This salt is cheap and highly available as manufactured in huge quantities in factories. The process is simple, natural salt is heated to 1200 Fahrenheit and the result is 97,5% sodium chloride and 2,5% other chemicals. Obviously every other nutritional component (like calcium and potassium) and impurities is destroyed by the high heat.
Table salt is usually fortified with iodine which is important for thyroid regulation.
This salt dissolves quickly, this makes it ideal for cooking. But it is not ideal as food. Producing table salt anticaking agents are used - usually sodium alumino-silicate and alumino-calcium silicate. Both sources of aluminum, which is implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Sea saltSea salt is well known and widely used.
It does not dissolve easily so it is not ideal for cooking. The risk is here that we are prone to add more sea salt to our food during cooking. To reduce sodium intake simply don't salt while you're cooking and instead simply sprinkle a pinch of coarse sea salt over your finished dish before serving.
Sea salt is produced by the evaporation of sea water, and as so it is not so pure as table salt it contains more minerals. The real difference between table salt and sea salt the taste - and not the small amount of minerals in sea salt. However, it contains about the same amount of sodium chloride as table salt. So we have to be careful with the amount used in our food.
Rock salt is found in the solid form and mined. Himalayan pink salt is rock salt - named after the mountain where it is mined. It has more nutritional value as it contains minerals (like potassium, iron, and magnesium). This pink salt is a good alternative for table salt. However, it's high mineral content does not mean that we should eat more.
Give up using saltshaker
Our bodies need salt: Sodium is crucial for maintaining the health of every cell in the human body, it permeates the fluid between cells. However, we do not need added salt to our food, as we can gain all sodium (and potassium) what our body needs from a natural source. All vegetables, fruits, grains contain sodium (and other important minerals). Eating a balanced, healthy diet cover all our needs.
Giving up salt is not an easy step, this should be done gradually reducing the amount of added salt and the same time compensate saltiness with other flavours such as herbs and spices.
I definitely will review my salt usage :-)