“in”salts & some salty facts

August 16, 2017
Lyndall McAlpine

I was sitting on the plane for the 8th time in 8 weeks discussing why plane food (which for some reason I still get excited about) is so salty and thought this would be an interesting topic.

  • A study in 2010 commissioned by German airline Lufthansa found:  due to lack of humidity, lower air pressure, and the background noise of flights, our sense of smell reduces and the sensitivity of our taste buds to sweet and salty foods is reduced by around 30%, hence the saltier food being served.
  • DYK the word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt because it is thought that was how Roman soldiers were paid, or they were paid in whatever available worth salt comparison.

In recent years, we were taught to think of salt as being unhealthy, but the fact is salt is vital to our health.

As well as flavouring and preserving our food, sodium is found in every fluid in the body, where it is essential for many biochemical processes such as  sending important signals from our nerves to our muscle fibres.

Too little salt can lead to dehydration, however too much salt can lead to excess fluid retention, high blood pressure and hypertension, so it’s important to watch how much salt you eat.

The The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends the adequate intake of salt as 1.15–2.3 grams (approx 1 tspn) per day. Most Australian adults have a daily salt intake of about 10 grams! This is usually not from overusing our shaker but from the excess salt (and sugar btw) added to our packaged food, especially “low fat” products that are devoid of flavour hence need extra salt and sugar to make them tastier (more in this here)…. One more excellent reason to choose nutrient rich real food the way mother nature intended rather than nutrient and fibre poor packaged, manufactured over processed food!

All salt is sodium chloride, but there are said to be different health benefits between forms or salt. To tell the truth, I have been researching the different forms for many hours now and had written a paragraph of each form however, as always with health topics, I came across some contradicting information and as often, I am so frustrated about what is the truth and what is over dramatic hype.

Truly, in my opinion, I would stay away from refined salt of any nature, mostly because

  • of the caking agents.
  • refining also removes the trace minerals, albeit small amounts and means
  • there is a slightly lower sodium ratio.
  • our taste buds register the larger crystals as saltier, this means we don’t use as much of it.

If you are interested in the different forms of salt then here is some information I began writing – “take it with a grain of salt” tee hee:

  • Table salt comes from deposits where sea water that once existed. However it is chemically processed, bleached and dried at excessively heat which removes all trace minerals. Substances are then added to keep it from caking. Sometimes potassium iodide (iodised salt) is added which can be a health benefit as most of us are depleted in iodine which is vital for among other things thyroid function.
  • Unrefined Sea salt retains sediment and other trace minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and iodine. Another advantage it is made up of larger crystals which our taste buds register as saltier, this means we don’t use as much.
  • Refining sea salt however takes away trace minerals.
  • Himalayan pink salt is said to get its pink colour from iron oxide. It is said to contain many trace minerals like sea salt and hence contains less sodium than table salt.
  • Kosher salt goes through the same refining process as table salt but has a coarse structure. It is also less likely to have the anti-caking additives.
  • Epsom Salt is made from a substance called Domolite. Due to its high magnesium content Epsom Salt is often used as a muscle relaxing, detoxing bath salt. It should generally not be used internally as it can have a strong laxative effect.

Personally I would rather you come away from this post recognising that most of your excessive salt intake is most likely in packaged food. I know we are all so very busy and need all the help we can get to survive our busy days but simply reading the labels, committing to (for a start) one extra home cooked meal a week (so much better to know what’s in your food) will be a great step in reducing your salt intake along with all the other wonderful health benefits it brings with it.


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