5 Reasons to Eat Salt

July 21, 2011 · 29 comments

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Recently, British research published by The Cochrane Library, found that while cutting salt consumption did appear to lead to slight reductions in blood pressure, that was not translated into lower death rate or heart disease risk.

Rod Taylor of Exeter University, led the review and stated, “…with governments setting ever lower targets for salt intake and food manufacturers working to remove it from their products, it’s really important that we do some large research trials to get a full understanding of the benefits and risks of reducing salt intake.”

I agree. People who eat a lot of packaged foods will consume a lot of salt — maybe more than they should. But people who eat a diet of real fresh food actually need to add salt to their food.

Salt is essential to life and to good health. It provides the elements sodium and chloride. While sodium is present in various foods, all the chloride ions only come from NaCl – salt.  These two elements are absolutely necessary for the infinite metabolic processes occurring in the body at any given time.

Here are 5 reasons to eat salt:

1 – Blood Pressure — the sodium in salt is necessary for the regulation of blood volume and pressure. While there are some individuals who are salt sensitive, the majority of people will not be affected by a reduction or a dramatic increase in salt intake. Herein lies the problem of blaming salt for increasing blood pressure. In most people, salt makes no difference. There are many other reasons for increases in blood pressure, such as stress, age, exercise, genetics and diet.

2 -  Adrenal Function — The adrenal glands need salt for the transport of vitamin C into the gland. Vitamin C is a vital cofactor to enzymes that are involved in the production of adrenal hormones. The adrenal hormones include epinephrine and norepinephrine, all the sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, aldosterone which regulates blood pressure and other hormones that help regulate mineral metabolism and stress responses. Salt craving is a sign of low adrenal function.

3 -  Infants require salt in order for their brain cells to develop. It has been found that infants fed formula without salt had problems in neurological development.

4 -   In order for neurons to communicate with each other and send messages to all parts of the body, the proper concentration of sodium and chloride ions is necessary. Action potentials (the firing of neurons) are only achieved with sodium and chloride present in sufficient quantities.

5 -  Salt provides us with sodium and chloride ions that are needed to expedite digestion. The enzymes that facilitate carbohydrate breakdown are sodium dependent. Sodium is also required for the manufacture of bile which helps emulsify fats for easy absorption. Chloride, which only comes from dietary salt, is necessary for the body to make hydrochloric acid. HCl is needed for protein digestion. Adequate HCl is also needed to protect us from pathogens that may enter the body through the mouth with food.

While salt is an essential component of our body (the body contains about 8 ounces of salt) it has been demonized almost as much as cholesterol. Current USDA Guidelines call for lowering the amount of salt Americans should consume to as low as 1500mg a day in at risk people. Again we have a guideline for lowering a substance that is totally necessary for good health but the recommendations are opposite. We are born with salt receptors for a reason — we crave salt for a reason. We need it.

Traditional cultures placed an extremely high value on salt. In fact, those that were in control of salt, were healthier and richer than those who were not. Salt was one of the first substances to be traded due to its high value. To quote Sally Fallon Morrel,

A certain political pattern emerges: where salt was plentiful, the society tended to be free, independent and democratic; where it was scarce, those who controlled the salt controlled the people. For example, along the shores of the Mediterranean and the North Sea, where salt was plentiful, farmers and fishermen nourished free societies. In contrast, areas of the world that had to import most of their salt or obtain it from small, isolated sources show a more autocratic pattern, a history of frequent conflict, monopoly and all-powerful rulers. In the ancient river valley civilizations of the Nile, Babylon, India, China, Mexico and Peru, the kings and priests maintained their rule and obtained their income through their monopoly of salt, on which the population was hopelessly dependent.

Of course, today, we have access to plenty of salt that has been highly processed, with other substances added or substances removed. Typical conventional salt has all the trace elements removed and is “pure” salt — except for the flow agents and possibly iodine added.

If you are eating fresh whole foods you will need to add salt to your meals. However, use a good sea salt that has all the trace minerals in it and one that is minimally processed.

Where to find a good quality sea salt.

Resources:

The Salt of the Earth

Photo Credit

This post is linked to: Fresh Bites Friday, Food Trip Friday, Foodie Friday, Foodie Friday, Fight Back Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Fun With Food Friday, Friday Food, My Meatless Monday, Sugar-Free Sunday, Monday Mania, Midnight Maniac, Meatless Monday, Meatless Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Homemaker Monday, Weekend Carnival, Mouthwatering Monday, Tuesday At the Table, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Delectable Tuesday,Traditional Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Made From Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tidbits, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Healthy 2DAy Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Foodie Wednesday, What’s On the Menu Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Creative Juice Thursday. Frugal Follies, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Turning the Table Thursday

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emily @ Butter Believer July 22, 2011 at 12:16 am

Great information, Jill! You have such a nice way of stating all the important facts on a subject thoroughly, yet succinctly. I wrote a fairly lengthy post about the importance of sea salt a few weeks ago, but this is much more direct — the health benefits are what matters most. Go salt! :)

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2 Jill July 22, 2011 at 6:09 am

Hi Emily,
Thanks so much for your kind words. There really is so much to say about it I feel that this is just the first articles about salt.

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3 Judy@Savoring Today July 22, 2011 at 8:13 am

Agreed! Well done post on an important subject. Sugar is a far greater health problem than salt, but there is a sugar lobby and gov subsidies protecting its status. Keep spreading the word!

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4 Jill July 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

Hi Judy,
So true! We are still thoroughly enjoying your recommendation for Tri Tip Roast!

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5 Pavil, the Uber Noob July 22, 2011 at 9:23 am

In antiquity, wages were paid in salt, hence the term, ‘salary’. One could consume it, use it to preserve food or use it to purchase stuff. Pretty handy.

Ciao, Pavil

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6 Jill July 22, 2011 at 9:39 am

Hi Pavil,
Yes, the history of using salt as money is very interesting.

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7 Cielo ko Brown Pinay July 23, 2011 at 5:55 am

Thanks for your informative post.

Mine is up at FTF No. 21. Hope you can visit back…

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8 jean July 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm

A great post! We need salt but, we need the natural, unprocessed salt. The Bible tells Christians they are the salt of the earth. That should say something about the value of real salt.

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9 Barbara Goodman July 25, 2011 at 9:22 am

Thanks for this info. re salt. Now I can enjoy that & some butter! Very important to know.

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10 Jill July 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Hi Barbara,
Yes, I love putting a good sea salt on my butter!

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11 Melissa @ Dyno-mom July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I just did a post on salt! It has been on my mind lately because of the study on sodium and potassium. But really I should have focused on some more of the health benefits, so I am going to put a link to this post, too. Thanks!

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12 Jill July 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Hi Melissa,
Thanks for the link! I’m going to look at your article too!

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13 Vicky July 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Great article! Interesting to note my Grandmother seemed to get through an awful lot of salt and she remained very healthy up to the age of 92! However, she didn’t buy any processed foods and cooked everything from scratch. She suggested her health was due to the consumption of an onion and a carrot a day!!

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14 Jill July 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Hi Vicky,
Thanks for sharing! Our grandparents did a lot of things that suddenly became “bad” — but now we are finding they are actually “good!”

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15 Mary Hudak-Collins July 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Very interesting information. I will save to show hubby :) He’s always telling me not to use salt LOL

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16 Jill July 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Hi Mary,
Thanks for your comments!

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17 Blue Cotton Memory July 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Historically, salt has been a valuable commodity. Glad to see that science backs that it is valuable to us – and that I can still love my salt!!

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18 Jill July 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Hi,
It is really interesting (to me) to read about how salt was used as currency in many different cultures in all parts of the world. That does indeed tell us something!

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19 Debra July 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Compelling post. It’s interesting that a person can eat 4 stalks of celery a day and reduce blood pressure and celery is high in sodium. Also, an organic farmer in Oregon I know uses salt to help feed the soil for his crops. I agree salt has been demonized by many who claim to be “health experts.”

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20 Jill July 29, 2011 at 6:25 am

Hi Debra,
Thanks for your comments. Where did you get that info on eating celery to lower blood pressure? Usually they recommend that celery is the first thing to go when trying to lower blood pressure? I would be interested to see more info about that.

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21 D. July 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Celery is a diuretic, so it would naturally lower blood pressure.

” . . . an active chemical in celery that
lowered blood pressure and that this chemical worked by
relaxing the smooth muscles that line blood vessels and by
lowering stress hormones in the blood. Stress hormones
cause blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure. This
active ingredient is called 3-n-butylpthalide, or phthalides.”

Taken from this link: http://www.collectivewizdom.com/DoesCeleryLowerBloodPressure-AComprehensiveReview.html

Also, Stanley Fishman wrote a great article a while back on the benefits of sea salt: http://www.tendergrassfedmeat.com/2011/05/24/natural-salt-vs-industrial-salt/

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22 Jenny July 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

Good post!

I LOVE salt…any non iodized, non anti caking agent salt will do….though I am partial to the low Fe/high Mg salts flavor wise.

I thought I’d share this article on the benefits of salt and how it works:
http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/salt.shtml

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23 Jill July 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

HI Jenny,
Thanks for the link!

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24 Susan with Permanent Posies July 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Great info! Thanks for sharing it. I love these kind of entries.

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25 Miz Helen August 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Great information, I do love my salt. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon. Hope you are having a great week!
Miz Helen

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26 Bibi August 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Great information as usual. So many people think salt if the root of all their problems, but they are the people who failed to remember little bit goes a long way

Thank you so much for sharing it at Foodie Wednesday and hope to see you there this week as well.

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