In the South, where I was raised, it was perfectly fine to salt slices of watermelon, just as it was acceptable to add the mineral to hardboiled eggs, grapefruit, and mashed potatoes. The general store even sold cured bacon, the saltiest meat around, hands down. The message during those years was simple: Salt is O.K.
So I salted. Before I tasted a forkful of food, I salted; before I sat down at table, I looked for the shaker. And when I found it, I shook that shaker with a kind of religious fervor that caused dinner partners to whistle, low and incredulous. I’d taken the message of my girlhood to heart and then with late-blooming rebellion, I wondered, How good is all this salt? Of course, I’d read headlines: “Salt is NOT OK.” But salt was only un-OK if you ate, say, boxes of it a day. We still need it because without salt, our electrolyte balance goes whack.
Then the World Health Organization (WHO) began urging people to lower their salt intake to less than five grams a day. And then the Consensus Action on Salt and Health  established Salt Awareness Week. After all, high salt-diets have been linked to increased risk of stomach cancer, osteoporosis, asthma, and certainly, high blood pressure. So, as I shook those familiar white crystals over my fries, I thought, maybe I’ll look into this issue of salt.
And so my shaker was stilled. While we’re eating less salt now than we did under Queen Victoria when salted ham and fish were the norm and salt consumption hovered near eighteen grams a day, we still average almost ten grams daily, twice what the WHO recommends. In fact, according to Dr. David Spence, Director of Stroke Prevention and the Arthrosclerosis Research Center at the Robarts Research Institute in Ontario, the human body only needs half a gram of salt each day.
Half a gram? What is that, a flick of the shaker? Turns out it’s not so much the addition of actual salt to our food as it is the kind of food we eat. Over three-quarters of our salt intake comes from processed food. Since prehistoric man first discovered adding salt to meat stops it from rotting so quickly, we’ve been fans of sodium, the key element in salt, and have used it as a preservative for everything from soup packets to cans of beans. The Vancouver Sun reports that just one breast of KFC’s Original Recipe Fried Chicken contains 161 grams of sodium, while McDonald’s Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and two ounces of Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar Dressing weighs in at a whopping 337 grams. Cut down on processed food, and you significantly lower your salt intake.
But don’t forget salt itself can be processed. According to the Pacific Health Center , the high-heat processing that gives us our table salt removes eighty-two of the eighty-four good-for-you minerals normally found in sea salt. And with the addition of aluminum compounds, like aluminosilicate of sodium and yellow prussiate of soda to prevent moisture absorption and caking, our table salt becomes just as processed as other foods. Best to try unrefined salt offered by companies like Celtic Sea Salt  or Real Salt . Maybe living a low-salt life will help us live to be old salts.
Hey, it’s not just about food. Salt crystals can be used in the bath, too. Check out what the Himalayan Crystal Salt Company  offers. Kosher and unrefined—that’s what you’ll find at Hawaiian Specialty Salt .
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