Q&A Wednesday

Many times when we suffer from high blood pressure, our doctors tell us to lower our salt intake. That can be difficult when we are so used to the salty taste, and often crave chips, popcorn, and other salty snacks. Without salt, all of our food would taste bland, and we would not enjoy mealtimes. On top of that, salt is used to extend the shelf life of a lot of products, as certain bacteria find it difficult to grow in a salty environment. Think of pickles - this was a natural way to extend the shelf life of vegetables with the help of salt before there was refrigeration.

Regular table salt

Craving salt is actually a sign of lack of minerals. The problem is the kind of salt we are consuming, and how this doesn't give us the minerals we need nor helps to lower our blood pressure. Regular table salt is actually not mineral dense at all. It is only made up of sodium and chloride - NaCl if you remember your days in chemistry class :-). Table salt is made from underground salt deposits, heavily processed to remove other minerals, and bleached. It is mixed with anti-caking agents like talc, so that it doesn't clump in humidity when cooking. Sometimes you may also see table salt fortified with iodine. Iodine itself is a vital nutrient, however in this case often a synthetic iodine is used, which doesn't have the same effects on our body. Other additives to regular table salt can be white sugar (to help stabilize the iodine) as well as MSG (to enhance the taste).

Sea salt

Sea salt is a great alternative to regular table salt. It is made by evaporating sea water, leaving salt in various grey, beige, and brown hues. Because this salt comes from the sea, it contains up tp 60 other minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, as we all as naturally occurring iodine. Since our agricultural soil is so depleted, sea salt is an excellent way to get more minerals into our diet. The salt grains are often bigger, leaving a more intense burst of salty flavor in the mouth. The downside is that our oceans are getting more contaminated with heavy metals, and these are also starting to show up in the sea salt. Try to look for unrefined sea salt, which should still be an off white color, and contain the most amount of minerals. Some special kinds to try are Celtic sea salt or Fleur de Sel.

Pink Himalayan salt

This beautiful pink salt comes from Pakistan. It has up to 80 minerals, making it the most nutrient dense salt available. The pink color actually comes from iron oxide or in other words, rust. Due to its high nutrient content, Himalayan salt is often used by functional medicine practitioners to hydrate the body, lower blood pressure, regulate sleep, and stabilize blood sugar.

Your blood pressure

The reality is that sodium does raise your blood pressure. This is important in order to not fall into a coma all of a sudden. Sadly though, in our world of refined processed foods, we have taken sodium out of its context. Usually sodium is accompanied by other minerals, specifically potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure. In this case there is an automatic "checks and balances" system in place. When we use refined table salt, we lose the potassium and only raise our blood pressure. Instead of needing to lower your salt intake, here are three tips on how to get your blood pressure back in control:

1. Limit processed foods

We always come back to the same changes in our diet - limit processed foods. Processed foods are rich in salt - regular, super cheap table salt. This makes processed foods taste delicious and you can easily get addicted to them. Who can stop after opening a bag of chips? Limiting the amount of processed foods actually drastically cuts your salt consumption, and the raising of your blood pressure.

2. Switch to sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

After reading about the different kinds of salt, this should be a super easy switch. First of all, both sea salt and pink Himalayan salt taste much more intense, so I am sure you will enjoy the salty flavor. Secondly, you will actually need less of these salts to flavor your food. And lastly, you will immediately change how your blood pressure reacts to your food. Use this salt liberally, so you can make sure to satisfy your salty cravings and not get tempted to eat processed foods.

3. Add salt only after cooking your food

The salty taste actually diminishes as you cook your food. Adding salt in the beginning of the cooking process means that you will probably continue to re-salt throughout the cooking and at the end. You can lower your salt intake simply by only adding salt once the food is cooked before serving it.

I hope this helps you. Please let me know in the comments or send me a note if there are any questions you would like me to answer in the future. I love hearing from you!


#healthtips #foodforthought #foodprep #seasalt