Posted by Jyoti Pal on February 20, 2008

The importance of salt in our lives cannot be overstated. Without salt, our bodies cannot perform some of the vital functions like regulating blood and body fluids and maintaining nerve signals. Salt deficiency leads to muscular weakness, cramps and exhaustion. Severe salt deprivation can even prove fatal.

Salt sets off an osmosis movement in the body and adjusts the amount of fluids within and outside the cells. A healthy body processes the amount of salt it needs, and expels the rest through the kidneys.

The two elements of salt – sodium and chloride – play a vital role in body functions. Sodium helps in sending messages to and from the brain, regulates the body fluids and helps our muscles – including those of the heart – to contract.

Chloride preserves the acid-base balance of the body, absorbs potassium and helps the blood to carry carbon dioxide from respiratory tissues to the lungs.

Types of salt:

Sea salt: Available in both fine and coarse grains, this is made from evaporated sea water. It is rich in minerals such as iodine, magnesium, and potassium, and has a fresher and lighter flavor.

Table salt: It is basically sea salt that goes through a refining process to remove traces of naturally occurring mineral impurities. Chemical additives are added to prevent clumping.

Iodized salt: This is a variation of table salt. It’s fortified with iodine, as lots of iodine is lost from natural salt during processing. This helps meet the body’s iodine requirement.

Rock salt: It’s the unrefined form of salt, basically used in making ice-creams.

Kosher salt: Inexpensive and coarse, this salt type is prepared under specific conditions approved by the orthodox Jewish faith. It contains no additives.

Low sodium salt: It has lower sodium content than regular salt. It is recommended for salt-sensitive people. Sodium-light salt helps maintain blood pressure.

How to buy and store salt:

• Pick up trusted brands. That will have fewer impurities.

• Avoid those with too many chemicals.

• Store salt in a dark colored bottle. It reduces loss of iodine.

• Use high-quality plastic or glass jars for salt storage.

• Avoid wide-mouthed bottles or jars. They let in moisture and make the salt damp and lumpy.

• Don’t use a wet spoon.

• Keep the lid tightly closed especially during the monsoons.

• Add a few grains of rice to protect the salt from becoming moist.

Live Punjab News Service

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