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Iodized Salt (Refined or Table Salt)

Salt, once considered one of the most precious food items in the world, is often falsely maligned as a cause of high blood pressure and water retention. There are health conditions where salt intake is contraindicated but the same cannot be said for the general population. Natural salt is an essential source of sodium and is required to maintain good health, however, regular iodized table salt and some brands of sea salt are overprocessed and contribute to poor health.

Individual need for salt varies but the sodium, chloride, and other macro and trace minerals that unprocessed salt provides are nutrients required by our bodies in order to function properly.

Unprocessed salt means salt that has simply been harvested from the sea and then left to dry without any additives or further processing. Salt harvested from the sea in this manner is naturally wet with a light grey colour and, even after harvesting, will maintain its moisture because of its high levels of magnesium. Natural salt contains on average 82% sodium chloride and 14% macro-minerals and trace elements.

The minerals found in unprocessed salt are predominantly used by the human body to form electrolytes, which are electrically conductive ions formed mainly from mineral salts of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chlorine. These electrolytes generate the electrical impulses of cell communication and activate muscles and neurons throughout the body.

Unprocessed salt contains high quantities of the mineral salts needed to make electrolytes including chlorides, which are generally only found in trace amounts in other foods. Getting enough chlorides is especialy important for individuals with weak adrenals because poor adrenal function increases the loss of sodium chloride in urine. Unprocessed salt also contains iodides, which are critical for thyroid function and hormone metabolism in both women and men.

And unprocessed salt doesn't just make your meals taste better it also helps you to digest them better. Salt activates primary digestive enzymes in the mouth like salivary amylase and it is needed to generate hydrochloric acid in the parietal cells of the stomach wall and is the single element required to make plant carbohydrates usable and digestible by humans. For example, the glucoside component in grains is not digestible without the presence of salt.

However, excess salt does have negative effects and can increase the excretion of calcium and potassium.

Unfortunately, in order to create the table salt that we are familiar with, natural salt undergoes a number of processes. It is exposed to high temperatures and treated with caustic soda or lime to remove the magnesium salts. Aluminum compounds are then added to dry the salt. Natural iodide salts are removed. Potassium iodide is added, consumption of which is associated with thyroid problems similar to those seen in iodine deficiency, and to stabilize the potassium iodide, dextrose is added, giving the salt a purplish hue, so finally it is bleached to make it white again.

Recommended Reading:

Salt Your Way to Health

Iodine: Why you need it, Why you can't live without it

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