Table salt or salt is consumed more than any other mineral in the human diet, which means that it poses health risks if it is used inappropriately.
By early 2019, the number of recipes that include salt will surpass those that contain any other single ingredient. As a result of the high number of recipes that contain salt, we have placed it at the very top of our list of ingredients. You can, however, sort the list according to your own needs. Please try it out. For example, you can reverse the order of ingredients; sort by those with a high carbohydrate, protein, or fat content, or sort by the composition of the linolenic acid—for example, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) or the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
Common salt is used to season almost all types of food, but the diets of people in the Western world contain too much salt.1 We do not consume excessive amounts of salt only because we use too much both while we cook and later at the table (the salt shaker problem), but also because there is salt in many processed foods.
Foods with an especially high salt content include bread, meat, sausages, milk, and cheese. Precooked dishes and fast food contain even more salt, so our palates have become accustomed to increasingly salty dishes. According to the award-winning book “Salt Sugar Fat,” we need a great deal of salt. Click for the book review. People perceive foods with little to no salt as bland, and it takes three months of reducing your salt intake or even eschewing it altogether to overcome the perception that unsalted food is bland. The reward for removing salt from your diet, however, is significant: your heart and other organs will have less work to do.
Adding salt increases the concentration and therefore the perception of organic seasonings, and low-sodium foods will therefore taste bland to those who consume a lot of salt.2
The best choice is to avoid prepared meals and eat fresh food. Season your food with herbs, spices, and other flavors such as lemon, onions, and garlic, and wait to add salt to taste at the end of your meal preparation. Raw food naturally contains sufficient quantities of salt.3 You should not require additional salt on a balanced raw food diet. However, when you cook your food some of its salt content is released into the cooking water, and you may want to add a little to replace what was lost.
Vegetables are generally boiled in salted water to increase the porousness of the cell walls through osmosis. Cooking vegetables in salted water shortens the cooking time so that more nutrients remain in the vegetables. But since salted water lengthens the cooking time, legumes should be salted only after cooking.
You will need one cup of salt and one cup of dried flowers without stems (e.g., lavender, calendula, nasturtium, rose petals, cornflowers, daisies, dandelions, mallow, or chive blossoms). Pluck the petals from the calyx (the outermost part of the flower), and then crush the ingredients with a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender until they are ground finely enough to suit your taste. The decorative flower salt will give your food a distinctively floral fragrance.
Salt is available in various forms, from many sources, and at varying levels of quality in virtually all grocery stores. One of the most common choices you will make when you buy salt is to buy iodized or non-iodized salt in supermarkets such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). Because salt is not an agricultural product, it cannot be certified organic. It is misleading to label salt organic.
The largest difference in the types of salt available are the size of the grains (coarse or fine) and the place where the salt is produced. In many countries, salt is supplemented with iodine to ensure a sufficient supply of iodine in areas where the soil is low in this mineral. If you do not use iodized salt when you cook, you may want to supplement your iodine in another way, such as with algae, which is high in iodine. See the link in the box.
Salt is also ameliorated with potassium fluoride in some countries. In addition to iodine and potassium fluoride, table salt crystals are often coated with an anticaking agent. Sodium fluoride (to improve dental health) and folic acid are also sometimes added to table salt.7,1
Sea salt, fleur de sel, specialty salts (e.g., Himalayan salt), bouillon, and other condiments all contain sodium chloride. Because of their sodium content, these products do not help to reduce your salt intake.8
Salt should be kept in an airtight container or in a dry environment because it draws moisture from the ambient air. When stored properly, salt can last for years. Insect infestations and fungal or bacterial infections are not problems with salt.
Salt is the chemical compound sodium chloride (NaCl). Its sodium content is 40 %, which means that 1 g of salt contains 0.4 g of sodium (Na). Salt’s chlorine content is not generally included in nutritional tables, because it is absorbed only from salt. Rock salt and sea salt contain 1 to 3 % other salts as a result of their extraction process. Purified, refined salt is the primary salt product on the market.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming less than 5 g of salt per day. The reality of the situation is quite different, unfortunately: in Switzerland alone, the average person currently consumes approximately 9 g of salt each day.4 The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 3.8 g of salt per day,5 and the Institute for Nutritional Medicine (Institut für Ernährungsmedizin) in Munich has set the daily requirement for adults at 550 mg of sodium.6 Taking all of these recommendations into consideration, we should aim for a maximum salt intake of 1.4 to 2.5 g each day.
You will find information on our site about the amount of salt, in addition to the quantities of all other essential nutrients, for each of our recipes and for every ingredient. The sodium content of each item is extrapolated as a measure of table salt. We show salt as a percentage of the daily recommended value of salt each day (2.4 g/day of sodium), which corresponds to 6 g of salt daily, and it goes without saying that this includes the salt already present in the ingredients.
GDA stands for Guideline Daily Amount, which the European Food Industry Association FoodDrinkEurope (FDE, formerly CIAA before 2011) has developed. The GDA is based on the recommendations of Eurodiet. The GDA label appears on packaged foods as a row of fields that resemble barrels and shows the amount of calories, sugar, fat, and salt (among others) an item contains. Australia uses a modified form of the GDA, called the Daily Intake Guide (DIG). In the US, the same information appears as a table called Facts Up Front that uses the daily values established in 2012.
The Reference intake (Ris) was used to differentiate between daily recommended values for women, children, and men. It no longer differentiates among these groups, but recommends 6 g of salt for everyone. The traffic light rating system used in the UK labels each nutritional component with the colors green, yellow, and red, like a traffic light, to make the relative nutritional value of each item easy to recognize. The green color in the traffic light system shows that a packaged food contains up to 0.3 g of salt in 100 g. Yellow designated that the food contains between 0.3 and 1.5 g of salt per 100 g, and red is used for products containing more than 1.5 g per 100 g or 1.8 g per serving. The colors represent similar guidelines for beverages: green for 0.3 g, yellow for up to 0.75 g, and red from 0.75 g / 100 g or 0.9 g of salt/serving.
What does salt do in the body? Sodium chloride is an important mineral for our bodies. It regulates the water balance in our cells, ensures tissue tension, and helps to maintain our acid-base balance. Salt also plays an important role in bone formation and digestion, and it is involved in the transportation of nerve stimuli.9
An adult’s body contains about 150 to 300 grams of table salt at any given time and needs one to three grams each day to compensate for the loss of salt through sweat and excreta. Some illnesses and heavy perspiration can cause a person to lose up to 20 grams of salt each day.2
While salt is essential for life, it is certainly no superfood. Too much sodium chloride in the body can increase blood pressure and thereby increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (and the damages that arise from cardiovascular disease). The American Heart Association (AHA) attributes 15 % of the 2.3 million deaths linked to cardiovascular disease to the excessive consumption of salt. Our hormones monitor our bodies’ saline content and flush excess sodium chloride out with a significant quantity of water. Flushing out excess sodium can damage the kidneys and increase the amount of water retained in the body, which in turns increases our weight.9
When we do not get enough salt (under 2 g per day), we run the risk of becoming dehydrated, since we do not experience the sensation of thirst. However, it is rare for a person to suffer from sodium deficiency.2 In the past, there was no sodium deficiency either. Salt deficiency only occurs in isolated cases and with certain diseases.11,12,13,14
The brain rewards salt intake with a release of DA (a contraction of 3,4-dihydroxyphenethylamine), since it used to be difficult for humans to get salt. The genes responsible for our appetite for salt are also those associated with drug addiction (such as opiates and cocaine).2
In Germany, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the MRI (Klinikum rechts der Isar München), and RKI (Robert Koch Institute), have been trying to reduce daily salt intake to a maximum of 3.5 to 6 g since 2011. Reducing the average amount of salt consumed in Germany from twelve to six grams per day has had almost the same effect as drugs for hypertension.10
Our preference for the taste of salt is something learned. Many newborns, for example, react negatively or neutrally to moderate concentrations of salt. A preference for salt appears only around age 2 or 3, and only when children have become accustomed to it.1 Conversely, it takes about three months for the body to lose its taste for salt, and for a low-salt diet to stop tasting bland. After we lose our taste for salt, our sense of taste becomes heightened again, and the taste buds can react normally. Click for the book review (as above).
Is table salt healthy? Eating processed foods significantly increases your salt intake. Salt consumption is increasing even in developing countries. Read the book review of Salt Sugar Fat. Then you will understand why Western societies are eating themselves sick.
Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine reported in the journal “Nature Neuroscience” that high salt intake led to cognitive deficits and bowel inflammation in mice.16
A dosage of ten tablespoons of pure table salt is deadly for adults. Ten tablespoons is roughly equivalent to 0.5 to 5 grams per kilogram of body weight.8 No normal person would be able to consume this amount of salt by accident without triggering the body’s defense mechanisms. For toddlers, however, the threshold for salt poisoning is about one teaspoon, which means that heavily salted food can be life threatening for them.2,15
In modern medicine, a 0.9 % saline solution (normal saline, isotonic saline, physiological saline) is administered in cases of significant blood loss in order to replenish blood volume. The same saline solution can be used as a carrier solution for medication or to maintain open access to the venous system. Saline solution is also used to rinse catheters, wounds, and abrasions. In addition, you can gargle a saline solution or use it as an ocular or nasal rinse. Saline solutions can also rehydrate dehydrated patients.
People with skin conditions can benefit from the healing effects of a salt bath, and a trip to a spa by the sea or near salt springs can have curative effects on respiratory ailments.8
In antiquity and the Middle Ages, people ascribed drying and warming properties to medications made with salt. Salt was a regular additive to wound dressings, bandages, ointments, and powders. Rubbing salt on the skin of newborns was thought to strengthen them. In the Middle Ages, salt was also used to treat skin ulcerations and other wounds, since it was considered to have astringent, purifying, and soothing properties.8
Although it was quite painful, it was also common to sprinkle salt in wounds to prevent inflammation, because pure salt destroys all types of cells (including microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi) through osmosis. Osmosis is also the mechanism that prevents food preserved in salt from spoiling.
Where does salt come from? Table salt can be obtained from sea salt or from rock salt. Today, almost every country in the world produces salt in either solid or liquid form in quantities that range from small to large. The markets for this salt production are generally limited to smaller regions because salt is expensive to transport.17
Historically, most ancient civilizations produced salt. Salt was already in use as a food preservative among the Sumerians and Babylonians. According to Wikipedia, this “white gold” was in high demand and rare in certain regions, and was transported on salt routes (salt roads, salt ways, saltways, salt trading routes) from saltworks and salt mines to regions with little access to salt. These salt routes later became important trading routes.
Many cities grew rich from salt taxes in the Middle Ages and became wealthy metropolises. The high price of salt meant that farmers could not afford to eat meat very often even though they slaughtered their animals themselves, because salt was central to curing and therefore to preserving meat.2 The word “salary” (German “Salär”) comes via Anglo-French from the Latin word “salarium,” and testifies to the historical value of salt: it means “payment in the form of salt.”18
Table salt is still used today to preserve (cure) meat. Nitrite pickling salt (ordinary salt to which 0.4 % to 0.8 % sodium nitrite has been added) has an antibacterial effect and creates a red color in cured foods.2 Pure rock salt is used in dishwashers to soften hard water. Approximately 85 % of the rock salt that is mined is used by the mining industry to produce chlorine and sodium for sodium hydroxide (caustic soda, lye) and other derivatives. Sea salt — especially from the Dead Sea — is very popular in the cosmetic industry in face masks, peels, and bath salts. Rock salt is also used to produce salt lamps.
The finer the salt, the faster it dissolves, and the more noticeable it is on the palate.
Advertisements extol many types of exotic gourmet salt such as Himalayan salt, Persian blue salt, and Ayurvedic salt for their special flavors, health benefits, or ancient origins. It’s good business! There is, however, no scientific evidence of the benefits of these special properties. In addition, all major salt deposits on Earth are about the same age.19
Sea salt is table salt extracted from seawater — mostly in concentrating ponds (salt gardens) where the water evaporates, leaving the salt behind. It is estimated that 30 % of the world’s salt production is sea salt; the rest is rock salt. Most of the salt that is used as table salt is washed before trading. Up to 5 % water can remain in untreated sea salt.
Fleur de Sel (salt flower) is the most expensive of all the varieties of sea salt because it predominantly consists of sodium chloride (usually over 97 %). This type of salt is only produced on hot, windless days, when a thin layer of salt forms on the surface of the water in salt evaporation pools. Fleur de Sel is collected by hand with a wooden shovel.20 Grey salt (sel gris) forms below fleur de sel. Sel gris gets its gray color from matter suspended in the water such as sediment particles and an algae called Dunaliella salina. Sel gris has a high residual moisture content, so it has to be crushed in a rust-resistant salt mill or with a mortar and pestle.20 Other types of sea salt include Hawaiian salt and Flor de Sal (Spanish for fleur de sel). None of the empty promises made by advertisers justify the high price of these types of salt.
Is table salt sea salt? Rock salt (halite) is found in deep soil layers and in salt flats. Marketing professionals like to refer to it as “primal salt.” While salt used to be mined by hand in salt mines, salt is extracted by drilling, blasting, or open pit mining (open cast mining, open cut mining) today. The rock salts most well known and commercialized today are Himalayan salt, Persian blue salt, or Kala Namak salt (black salt, black Himalayan salt), which is pink when it is ground. Himalayan salt (incidentally from Pakistan) gets its pink color from iron oxide compounds.19 Kala Namak is a seasoning that is produced from rock salt, iron sulfide, charcoal, and spices.21 Persian blue salt owes its blue cast to changes in its lattice structure, but colorants are often used as well, despite their use being illegal.19
How is table salt produced? Both sea salt and rock salt can be obtained by evaporation, where the water evaporates from brine and leaves behind salt. The result is called evaporated salt. The same process also works with preexisting subterranean brines, such as those found in the Kalahari desert (Kalahari salt).
Important alternative names for salt are table salt, cooking salt, and common salt.