Salt is a mineral substance, which primarily composed of sodium chloride. It is present in vast quantities in sea and the open ocean will be having about 35 grams of solids per litre. Salt is produced from salt mines or by the evaporation of seawater or mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools. Of the annual production of around two hundred million tonnes of salt, only about 6% is used for human consumption. Too much sodium in the diet raises blood pressure and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The World Health Organization recommends that adults should consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium that is 5 grams of salt per day.
Types of Salts
There are several varieties of salts, which are categorized according to their processing methods and location of origin. Some of the kinds of salts are Table salt, Coarse salt, Iodized salt, Kosher salt, Celtic salt, Dairy salt, Rock salt, Pickling salt, Sea salt, Sour salt, Seasoned salt, Popcorn salt, Colored salt, Black salt and many more. Each type of salt has their own elements, compounds and distinct features.
Black salt or Kala Namak is a pungent smelling purplish or pinkish-gray rock salt used in Pakistan and regions of India. It is extracted from Himalayas and the salt ranges in north west of Pakistan. The smell is mainly due to its sulfur content. It is considered a cooling spice in ayurvedic medicine and is used as a laxative and digestive aid. This salt is also used to treat hysteria.
Salt which has iodine (sodium iodide) added is called as Iodizes salt. Iodine is a mineral necessary to the body to prevent hypothyroidism. For those who live in areas away from oceans, iodized salt is an easy way to get this necessary nutrient into the diet. Surprisingly, this salt contains a small amount of sugar, without which the salt would turn yellow due to oxidation of the iodine.
Rock salt is less refined and grayish in color, this is the chunky crystal salt used in ice cream machines. This type is generally not used as an edible flavoring mixed into foods, but in cooking methods such as to bake potatoes or to encrust or embed meat, seafood or poultry for baking. Rock salt makes an impressive bed for oysters on the half shell. When using rock salt for cooking, be sure it is food-grade. Some rock salt sold for ice cream machines is not suitable for cooking.
Effects of Salt on Kidneys
Salt works on kidneys to make the body hold on to more water. This extra stored water raises blood pressure and puts strain on kidneys, arteries, heart and brain. Over time, this extra strain can damage the kidneys and reduce their ability to filter. If kidney disease is left untreated and the blood pressure isn’t lowered, the damage can lead to kidney failure. So reduce in salt intake will even help for blood pressure and can have healthy kidneys.
Effects of Salt on Brain
The raised blood pressure caused by eating too much salt may damage the arteries leading to the brain. At first, it may cause a slight reduction in the amount of blood reaching the brain. This may lead to dementia. This condition reduces the brain functioning because they can not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. If intake of more salt is done overtime, the arteries in brain may burst or may be completely blocked. One of the best ways of keeping blood pressure down and brain to function better is by eating less salt.
Salt causes Cancer
A heavy salt diet will surely pull the people towards the drastic diseases like stomach cancer. The Cancer Research in UK said that Eating just 12g of salt a day doubles the likelihood of stomach cancer. In the latest study, the people those are consuming high salts were found to run twice the risk of stomach cancer. Scientists also said that high salt intake induce atrophic gastritis which leads to stomach cancer. Accoding to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), if the salt is taken less and more fruits and vegetables are consumed cancer can be prevented for some extent. They have made several researches and finally concluded that 75% of this salt comes from processed foods, 15% from salt naturally found in food, and 10% from table salt that we add to our food. They have also estimated that 21% of stomach cancer cases could be prevented by increased consumption of non-starchy vegetables and 18% of cases could be prevented by increased consumption of fruit. Excess salt intake is a deadly poison to the body it even can kill a person. A diet high in sodium can contribute to hypertension, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. Even if a person never added salt while cooking or at the table, they are still getting more than 1,500 milligrams of salt every day. Medical experts believe that kidney stones are chiefly caused by improper diet that is too high in sodium and too low in water consumption. Scientists also studyed that salt is “the real public enemy”.
How to eat less salt
An adult should eat not more than 5g of salt a day, but most of the people eat much more than this. Most of the salt we eat every day is “hidden”. Roughly 80% of the salt we eat is hiding in processed foods like bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals and prepared ready meals or takeaways. Only 20% comes from the salt we add while cooking or at the table. To lower your sodium intake, replace table salt with salt-free spices or salt substitutes.
Health Benefits of Salt
Salt is not only critical to life, but it is one of the basic elements of which body is made.
1. Sea salt naturally helps you to build up a strong immune system.
2. Salt can also helps to reduce weight.
3. A sea salt bath can help to relieve dry and itchy skin as well as serious conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
4. Potassium present in sea salt is essential for helping the muscles to function properly.
5. Sodium deficiency can lead to shock if the blood pressure is decreased too severely. So minimun amount of salt consumption is essential to maintain blood pressure.
6. Iodized salt can improve the functions of the brain like memory and concentration.
7. Iodized salt can help to relieve from depression and also fights the feeling of anxiety.