As the sun slipped below the horizon, twilight began its ascent, bringing another beautiful day in the bay to a close. The mother deer, keeping her twin fawns within eyesight, stepped lightly through the brush beneath the old oaks, often pausing to sniff the air for the scent of a coyote. Early evening was when she felt safest to travel to the salt lick. Neighbors left the block on a well-traveled deer path far away from area flower and veggie gardens. This deer had “marked” the salt block area, so she felt comfortable bringing her family to it. The three had their fill and moved on quietly.”
LJ handed Annie the binoculars, “Bambi and her babies are enjoying the salt.”
Annie looked, “she is a good momma. Putting a salt block on a deer trail is reminiscent of how salt played a role in civilization’s development. Pre-historic animals sought out salt to satisfy their need for the mineral. Humans hunted them along the trails to the salt source, thus introducing salt to our diet. The trails became paths, the paths became roads, and villages grew around those roads. Once salt’s antiseptic, flavor, medicinal and preservative, qualities were realized, it became a currency (salary is derived from the word salt). As the salt economy evolved, the villages grew into towns, and the towns into cities and ta-da now we have civilization!”
LJ smiled, “salt definitely played a significant role in how cultures and countries grew and developed. Did you know salt is a combination of sodium and chlorine? Together they are sodium chloride. Salt is an essential nutrient, and in the right amount is beneficial for the heart, immune system, and oral health, maintaining muscle function and calming the nervous system. Salt’s negative effect is due to its ability to pull water out of your blood cells. The more you eat, the more water enters your bloodstream, swelling the volume, and increasing your blood pressure. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, kidney, and heart disease.
I personally like Himalayan pink salt, mined from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It’s minimally processed and gets its pink color from iron. It also has around 84 other minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and rare trace elements. I think it tastes better than regular salt, but that’s just my preference.”
“Yeah, babes, it’s important to know all salts are not equal. Their sodium amounts are about the same; forty percent by weight, but for example, Regular salt is stripped of its vital nutrients during processing and contains a clumping additive, however, it has iodine added to it. Iodine is needed for thyroid health, so using pink or sea salt means you need to get iodine from other sources like fish, seaweed, or dairy products to avoid iodine deficiency.”
LJ nodded, “When I was growing up, we used Sea salt. We enjoyed its strong taste, so we didn’t use so much. It comes from evaporated seawater and is minimally processed. It does not have iodine, but it does contain magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. What do you know about Kosher, Maldon, and Black salt?”
Annie thoughtfully paused, “Kosher salt was originally used to draw blood from meat per Jewish dietary law. Its crystals are coarse and irregular in shape. Some of it is made from seawater, but mostly it’s mined. It has less sodium than table salt. One teaspoon of kosher has about 1,120 milligrams of sodium compared to 2,325 milligrams in a teaspoon of table. Its flavor is excellent as a seasoning before cooking meat or vegetables.
Maldon is an expensive sea salt consisting primarily of sodium chloride. It contains trace amounts of seawater minerals and is mainly used as a finishing salt due to its light, briny flavor.
There are three types of Black salt; one is not for eating, the other two, Black Lava and Kala Namak (Indian Black), are edible. Black Lava is blended with activated charcoal and is a finishing salt. Indian Black is Himalayan Pink salt that has been heated to a high temperature and mixed with spices, one that contains sulfur, giving it a distinct odor. It contains iron and magnesium. It is treated as a cooling spice.”
“In summary,” said LJ, “there are many salt choices, and since salt is a part of a balanced diet, we should include it, but according to the American Heart Association, 75% of people’s diet comes from processed foods which tend to have high amounts of salt. So, the best way to reduce dietary salt is to reduce consumption of processed foods?”
Annie smiled, “my love, you are a genius.”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.
Andrea Breaux is the Founder of Healthy Healing Eats. She writes about food-as-medicine and earth-friendly lifestyle practices. Find her weekly blog, recipes, and products at healthyhealingeats.com.