Salt is vital to health. It is an important source of minerals. Minerals are not only needed for good health, they are also strengthening.
Salt was considered so important that, during Roman times, soldiers were paid their wages in salt and this is where we get the word “salary”.
Unfortunately, due to both abuse and misunderstanding, many people – including many health “experts” – have come to believe that salt is harmful. Some even try to avoid salt completely and they use products such as Braggs Amino Liquid, which is soy sauce substitute made without salt. Some macrobiotic teachers call this “soy sauce for wimps!”
Just as too much salt can be harmful, too little can also be harmful.
But what is the rightt amount? That’s hard to say. Every one has different needs. And because salt is such a concentrated substance, a little more or less can make a big difference. But if you use salt by the pinch rather than by the spoonful, you are probably getting it right.
While there is no exact way to measure how much salt each of us needs, it is important to learn the proper use of salt, so that salt becomes more helpful than harmful.
People who follow a macrobiotic diet are known to eat fairly “salty” foods. Yet even though salt is said to raise blood pressure, macrobiotic people tend to have very healthy blood pressure levels. They use salt in the correct way.
There are four three factors to consider:
- Salt in relation to the rest of your diet and your personal condition.
Quantity is obviously a problem for many people today. They take far, far too much salt. A good place to observe how much salt people take is at a sushi or sashimi bar. You will see that many people eat their raw fish literally soaked in soy sauce. For me, I just dip one small corner of it.
Overall, your food should have a LIGHT SALTY TASTE, not strong salty taste.
The trouble is, what’s light to you may be strong to somebody else. So how do you measure?
Start by re-training your tastebuds. Most modern people have tastebuds that are no longer sensitive, due to strong salt, strong sugar, strong spices, etc. Retrun to eating “bland foods”. They may seem tasteless at first. But after about two weeks, your tastebuds will regain their sensitivity and you will not need a lot of salt, sugar, chilli and other strong tastes.
The amount of salt is also a problem for those who eat plenty of packaged and canned foods. Some of these, eg, canned venegables compared with fresh vegetables, may contain up to several hundred times more salt.
If you eat mainly fresh foods, your chances of salt overdose are that much lower.
Quality is another very important factor. All the scientific studies which show salt to be harmful are studies using refined salt instead of natural sea salt.
Refined salt, also called common salt, table salt, etc, is 99.9% sodium chloride.
Sea salt is about 95% sodium chloride, 4% potassium chloride plus tiny amounts of about 60 other minerals. Although these come in tiny amounts, they are vital to health.
Most macrobiotic teachers recommend WHITE SEA SALT, which is actually very slightly refined. Do not use Celtic or grey sea salt. It is too strong.
Also, do not use all sorts of chemically modified salts, such as iodised salt, high potassium salt, low-sodium salt, etc.
Usage of salt is probably the least understood.
Salt is meant to be COOKED WITH FOOD. It is not a good idea eat salt on its own. Because then it enters the blood stream directly and can have a strong, harmful effect on the kidneys.
You may think that you don’t do it, but many people do without realising it. They sprinkle salt onto food after it is cooked. Or they eat snacks such as salted peanuts, potato chips and corn chips. Many health conscious people do this as well.
Use salt only in cooking. Let it cook together with the rest of your food for at least 10 minutes. This allows the salt molecules to combine with food molucules, so – a process called chelation – and so you are taking salt indirectly.
Salty seasonings like soy sauce and miso are another way of taking salt indirectly.
Finally, you need to consider salt in relation to the rest of your diet and your personal condition.
The effect of salt is this: SALT THICKENS THE BLOOD.
On the one hand, thick blood is good because it makes you strong. On the other hand, thick blood can be a problem if your arteries are blocked. This is why such people are given medication that thins the blood, so that it flows more freely.
Also, in Chinese medical theory, salt is said to nourish the kidneys – that is, light salty foods nourish the kidneys. But strong salty foods harm the kidneys.
How much salt you should take would therefore depend on, among other things, the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet, the condition of your blood vessels and your kidneys.
You will need to reduce your salt intake if:
- Your prespiration tastes salty, meaning your body is trying to discharge excess salt.
- You have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart diseases (except for heart failure, when the heart is too weak to pump).
- You have, or are on the verge of, kidney failure.
- You eat lots of meat or used to eat lots of meat in the past, even though you may be vegetarian now.
- You eat lots of packaged and processed foods, especially salty snacks.
- You have a strong yang condition – your body is hard and stiff, your friends consider you stubborn, narrow-minded and overly serious….
Few people nowadays need to take more salt, but you may need to if:
- Your perspiration has no salty taste at all.
- You have been vegetarian for a very long time.
- You eat , or used to eat, lots of raw salads, fruits, sugar and alcohol.
- You had been on a no-salt diet for no valid medical reason, simply because you read somewhere that salt is “bad”.
- You feel weak and lacking in energy.
- You have an overly yin condition – your body is soft and limp, your mind is spaced-out and unfocused.