Thursday, 8 December 2011

Is sea salt better for you? NO

Sea Salt Cloth from Cornwall by Vidya Crawley
Salt is one of the most important ingredients in the kitchen almost since human civilisation begun. First we used like a preservative for meat and fish, for brine and lately to enhances the flavours of our meals.The Salt is a mineral that is composed primarily of sodium chloride a must in our body. It´s found in the nature under the earth ground or in the sea. In its natural state is colourless or a bit greyish and each salt grain is formed from millions of sea crystal.
One of the most popular methods to obtain sea salt is evaporating water from the seas. The evaporation process can be natural (natural evaporation of a lake given high temperature or strong winds) or in salt mines beside the sea. Once the evaporation process has finish the salt crystals are collected (manual or mechanical) and start a process of depuration for make it adaptable for human consumption.

Sea Salt in Britain and Europe
Flamingos at Cabo de Gata Natural Park by Landahlaust
The different kinds of salt are distinguished by the colour, the taste, the grain size, the compositions or solubility, but for British gourmets and foodies the most popular or best market are from Cornwall used for Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay for example. Traditionally for chef around the world the Maldon international company from the Essex coast is a salt institution for its purity and strong salty flavour, especially for seasoning fish, meats and grill vegetables. Also the salty waters of the Anglesey Coast produce strong flavour crystals with a great texture and now part of the Heston Blumenthal range of flavoured gourmet sea salts.
Another world wide famous salt is the Guerande from Britannia (France) appreciate it for be rich in oligoelements and the grey colour and is easy to dissolve. And if I need to recommend one will be the Flower of Salt (Fleur de sel in France, Flor de Sal in Spain and Portugal) The European version of this salt are most of them extracted from Natural Parks, where human exploitation of the lagoon cleaning the excess of salt has helped to the local and migratory birds like flamingos can live or rest. The flower salts contain a natural pink micro-algae that through the contact with the flamingos in the water gave to them their famous pink colour. This salt is most recommending for salad or for adds to the food in the last step of cooking.

Benefits of Salt consumption and risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 6g a day.
Gourmet Salt, Sea salt or rock salt is no better for your health, like normal table salt, they have the same level of sodium chloride accounts almost a 100%

Photo by Krissen
Benefits.
1.Facilitate a correct digestion regulating the levels of bacteria in the digestive system.
2.To maintain the liquids and acidity levels in the body helping the absorption of potassium.
3.To provide the necessary amount of minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine.
4.To avoid nausea, cramps and, even, convulsions brought about by the lack of salt, if you sweat a lot the lack of salt can be a problem.
5.For flavour our food and dishes and make them tastier.

Risks.

In most of the developed countries daily salt intake has increased until  double of the recommendations.
The salt abuse in our diet will be reflected in our health in a medium long term

1.The abuse of salt produces blood pressure creating heart failure, one of the main death diseases in Europe and America.
2.Produce water retention and with that obesity and will make that our main vital organs like heart, livers and kidney work even more.
3.Can produce Brain ischemia, a more common deathly disease that causes insufficient blood flow to the brain.
4.Excess of salt in the diet is related with stomach cancer
5.Also can produce osteoporosis.

How to reduce you salt daily intake

Traffic Light Food Labelling is one of the news ideas from government to reduce
high  intakes of sugar, fat and Salt. Photo by Labour Party
1.Stop eating ready meals, take away or in restaurant, ¾ of your totally salt intake came for industrial food. Start to cook at home fresh ingredients, vegetables, meat or even fish have not high salt content for treat to health, just enough for make healthier your body.
2.Cook without salt and train your taste. Avoid add extra salt in the cooking process and just add some salt if you needed in your final dish. With a few weeks your taste will not need salt for start to taste the real flavour of your food. When you go to a restaurant ask to the kitchen to no add salt to your meal.
3.Start to cook with the big range of herbs available in the markets; they will give to your food all the flavour that you need.
4.Use sea salt or use salt with low quantities in sodium. Sea salt has a more intense flavour; in consequence you will need fewer quantities in your meals. Sea salt will be better only in the way you use less in your food.
5.Read the label of your food products and check the salt percentage. In UK most are well indicated but in some another countries you will need to check the sodium level and multiply for 2,5 for get the real quantity of salt in your product.

Top most salty foods

Ham and cheese sandwich have a high salt content
Even in UK one of the pioneering countries against the salt abuse, a single slice of bread can have an astonish 1g of salt

1.Breads, almost any kind but mainly avoid factory breads
2.Cheeses (matured) and another dairy products
3.Sausages and processed meats like hams and bacon
4.Snacks like chips, salted peanuts and also prepared olives and anchovies.
5.Soy sauces or jerk seasoning

And also watch out for those that don’t look like salty, Cereal Breakfast and Ketchup with an astonishing 2.2g of salt each 100g (yes go and take a look at your bottle)

Gourmet Salts

Heston Coriander & Rose Salt by Winkypedia
Despite the effort for the government to try to reduce at half the salt consumption in the population for reduce costs , obesity and fatal victim the supermarkets and another food industries with the some of the celebrities chef like main protagonist don´t stop to launch new salt brands promising that they are the testier and healthy alternative to the classic table salt (that last bit is just for a label from one salt packet) but you need to be very aware that gourmet salt are just more expensive and just as bad for you like another normal salt. Gourmet salt contain like another table salts between 97 to 100% sodium chloride having the same benefit or risk in your body. Read more at The Guardian

More

Download the WHO report about Strategies to monitor and evaluate population sodium consumption and sources of sodium in the diet
Download the Who report Less salt less risk

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Germán,
    siempre viene bien el recordar que el uso de la sal debería ser mínimo, cómo te preocupas por nuestra salud!,
    con las tartas me he quedado impresionada, qué pinta!, me encanta conocer recetas de otros países, y si son dulces, mejor, un beso!

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