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Is Sea Salt Really Healthy?

sea salt spilling out of bowlI’ve received quite a few emails over the last few days regarding my recent article on salt.

The main concern seems to be:

What about sea salt? Doesn’t it contain less sodium and more trace minerals, making it a healthier alternative to regular table salt?

Let’s have a look:

Sea Salt Contains Less Sodium Chloride

This may be true for some sea salt brands, but not for the majority of them.

Most sea salts actually do not contain any less sodium chloride than regular table salt, which contains around 99% NaCl!

Himalayan salt, while not evaporated from seawater, is another heavily-marketed “healthy” salt. And yet even Himalayan salt contains about 98% (perhaps as low as 95%) sodium chloride.

Celtic sea salt contains the lowest amount at around 84% sodium chloride.

The bottom line? All extracted sodium chloride, including sea salt, is comprised of mostly sodium chloride.

Sea Salt is Full of Trace Minerals

It’s true that sea salt does contain trace minerals while table salt does not. But what’s most important here is quantity.

As I said above, sea salt contains about 98-99% sodium chloride. That leaves a measly 1-2% for trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and sulfur.

Even if you were to add a whole heaping teaspoon of salt to a meal (please don’t ever do this!), you would still only receive negligible amounts of minerals.

You would literally have to consume a massive amount of the stuff to receive any meaningful amount of these minerals, which means consuming massive amounts of sodium chloride right along with it.

Wouldn’t it be much safer, healthier, and more efficient to get your minerals from whole foods?

Fruits and Veggies Win Again!

You do not need to consume table salt, sea salt, or any other form of extracted sodium chloride to be healthy. In fact, it’s best to avoid salt completely.

You can get all the minerals you need, in the forms, quantities, and combinations that you need them, simply by consuming a healthy diet of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Go raw and be fit,

Swayze

P.S. While the best raw food diet is predominated by fruit, you must also consume tender greens like romaine, spinach, and celery if you want to thrive on raw foods. Ideally, this means consuming 2-6% of your calories from greens.

I know that doesn’t sound like much, but let me put it into perspective for you. If you eat 2000 calories per day, 40 of those calories should come from greens to meet the 2% minimum.

40 calories of red leaf lettuce is about 9 ounces, or just under an entire head!

Personally, I eat much more than this (typically between 12-16 oz. per salad, not including other ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, etc.) just about every night for dinner in a big salad. Or I just eat the greens plain with some fruit, taking a bite of fruit, then a bite of greens, then fruit, then greens, and so on.

And I eat it all without any salt, spices, or other unhealthy condiments.

I know, I know, I know! That’s far too much food and far too bland without salt and spices!

Don’t worry, fellow raw foodist Roger Haeske’s got the solution…

Click Here!

These “stews” are full of greens and deliciousness, yet completely salt-free and low-fat! They’re absolutely perfect if you’re new to raw and can’t yet stomach the thought (or sight!) of a super big salt-free salad.

And if you can, then just do what I do and make a double batch! :)

==> Savory Veggie Stews

23 comments

1 Bill K. { 05.17.11 at 7:46 am }

Swayze,

I have learned over the years that fancy names like “Celtic Sea Salt” is really just creative marketing at work. I totally agree with you Sodium is Sodium no matter what we may be calling it this year. The spice of life may actually be no spice at all! (Or at least very little – a little nod to Roger Haeske)

I appreciate your gathering the facts.

Bill

2 stille waters { 05.18.11 at 9:49 am }

The unexpected results from a belgian doctor , about salt restriction , was published begin May 2011 in JAMA
(American Journal of Medical Association )

As a scientist , this University-professor is very relativating at his own findings of his 8-year ( relative ) small study

in his words :

” it is clear that one should be very careful in advocating generalized reduction in sodium intake in the population at large, there might be some benefits , but there might also be some adverse effects ” (source http://www.asiaone.com )

and elsewhere :

” one should be very careful when one wants to implement sodium restriction , as it is based on short-term studies mainly in hypertensive population ; whether one can extrapolate these short-term results over the long term remains to be seen , especially as our study and 2 previous studies have shown an inverse association between sodium intake and mortality ”

source :
http://newsatjama.jama.com/2011/05/03/autor-insights-questioning-the-benefits-of-salt-restriction/

also some critical observations about this study on :

http://www.steadyhealth.com (the link is too long )
article by Robert Sister
title : ” Eating less salt does not necessarily cut high blood pressure and hearth dfiseas risks “

Swayze Reply:

No news here. It’s silly for one to think that all he or she has to do is eat less salt to see marked health improvements. If you’re still eating SAD, albeit less salty, you are still at risk for all kinds of illnesses, heart disease and hypertension included.

3 stille waters { 05.18.11 at 10:04 am }

from a hygienistic standpoint it is true that one should remove all extra salt intake from his diet , but then one could also begin to question himself : whether to use or not use herbal teas , whether to use or not use spices , whether to use or not use imported tropical fruits , … regardless of their proven scientific facts based on studies

for example : one could completely ban the use of green tea , but then one misses some of its benefits :
- green tea combined with juice from blue grapes improves the assimilation of the “resveratrol” stored in the blue grapes
-the substances in green tea have a beneficial effect on the global hormonal balance of a man

Swayze Reply:

You’re right. From a natural hygienist viewpoint, there are many “foods” consumed today that are not optimal, e.g. salt, pepper, garlic, onions, chilis, herbs, etc. Does this mean that you must exclude everything that isn’t fruit or vegetable from your diet to see major health improvements? No. But the closer you get to eating exclusively whole fresh fruits, tender greens, and limited nuts and seeds, the better.

There is definitely a continuum when it comes to “good” and “bad” foods. While many people view salt as “not that bad,” it is nowhere close to optimal fruits and veggies. How can it be? It’s nothing but extracted sodium chloride! It does nothing except dehydrate you, a very serious condition.

4 stille waters { 05.18.11 at 10:31 am }

it is true that the health food industry promotes overpriced
salts , praising their health benefits (?) into the sky , to ensure you spend your money buying them

there is no significant difference between sea-salt and
( some himalayan overpriced ) mountain-salt

what i particularly take care of , is to avoid the anti-clustering agents that are added to the salt : either these additions are toxic , or they contain nano-sized particles which are much too small compaired to the size of human cells ( and get incrusted in the cells for ever )

Just like the nano-sized dust-particles from traffic-pollution are getting incrusted for ever in the cells of your lungs ( and are a long-term health-risk )

i guess everyone has to decide for himself to use some extra salt intake or completely ban it

the recommendations for minimum daily intake of salt that one can find in articles is : 1/4 to 1/2 tea-spoon for an adult of 70 kg

especially for vegetarians who do not eat any (salty) fish or do not use seaweed , it may be wise to take a very little minimal intake of quality non-polluted sea-salt , without any harmful additions , i think this is not an extreme feature of ones diet

not everybody has the eating-habits or the personal likings to eat a mountain of raw vegetables, to ensure their daily need of sodium ( also there will be a difference in vegetables grown in coastal areas compaired to continental areas )

Swayze Reply:

“especially for vegetarians who do not eat any (salty) fish or do not use seaweed , it may be wise to take a very little minimal intake of quality non-polluted sea-salt , without any harmful additions , i think this is not an extreme feature of ones diet”

I can’t see what good NaCl would do. In fact, it can only cause more harm. You can get all the sodium you need from raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

stillewaters Reply:

From what i understood now about having a healthy balance between sodium blood levels and potassium blood levels is : that your body-systems , despite an unbalanced intake of sodium-rich food and potassium-rich foods will “try ” to achieve again the right healthy balance for optimal functioning of each individual cells , and that this “strain” on your body ( in the best case ) may (may ! )create a longterm health-risk
People who eat only fruit and vegetables , no bread
( sold with salt added ) , no cheese ( sold with salt added ) , never seaweed ( sold with salt on it ) , take no extra (sea)salt , eat no eggs ( relative high in sodium compared to potassium content) , …
…will have much more potassium-intake than sodium-intake through their diet
My doubts remain , that only increasing vegetables which are rich in sodium , can bring enough sodium-intake into ones diet for longterm health

stillewaters Reply:

Quotation from a french book : ” Diététique du médecin practicien ” ( title could be badly translated as Handboof of Diet for Doctors )

“…Since vegetarians consume many fruits and vegetables – food which is rich in potassium and poor in sodium – their need for daily sodium is higher compared to non-vegetarians …”

“… Workers in places with high temperatures , people living in countries with a hot climate , athletes and runners , … loose a lot of sodium with their transpiration : their need for sodium is even higher … ” ( !! )

ps : remember : just trying to find the correct science-based answer if extra salt for “strict” vegans is needed or not , when i find a well-conducted medical article on the internet , i will post it :-)

5 stille waters { 05.18.11 at 10:52 am }

oeps !!

made a spelling mistake in my link in one of my comments

the correct link should ( hopefully) be :

http://newsatjama.jama.com/2011/05/03/author-insights-questioning-the-benefits-of-salt-restriction/

6 Bill K. { 05.18.11 at 11:49 am }

Stille Waters,

Great info!

I have found with many of the studies, once completed, still have almost as many questions as they do answers. The fact is that the human body is very complex and especially chemically we are a complicated mixture of various acids, enzymes, proteins, etc.. The main goal of our interanl systems is to keep the body in a condition of homostatis (equilibrium) with regard to our blood chemistry and temperature along with many other perameters. All of these functions should take place with only the addition to our body of the proper supply of food. It is this source of food that should include all of the sugars, vitamins, minerals, and waste carrying fibers, etc required for this homostatis to be maintained and for us to have the energy required to live.

Long story short, the best way to tell if you are getting what you need from your diet is by the way you feel. Do you have bountiful energy? Are you able to think clearly? Are you free from aches and pains? Do you eliminate waste effortlessly?

The second best way to see how you are doing is by getting your blood tested. This will give you an idea if you are short on any of the minerals and vitamins etc in your blood chemistry.

So what does this have to do with salt? Mainly, I personally would not add or subtract anything from my diet without, first, knowing if I needed it or not.

Personally, I find that even a small amount of salt on my food causes an evavation in my heart rate which is a symptom of blood poisoning.

If test show that you are low in sodium then it certainly would be advisable to add some to your diet. Without confirmation, you would just be guessing.

Another problem that I often encounter is in the standards that exist out there. Most of the current requirements are set based on a population of people with very poor nutrition. There have not been enough people on a good diet (Such as Swayze advocates) to really get a good baseline to work against. What this means is that often the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals can be skewed on the high side as so many of those tested are following a very bad diet. As the population becomes more healthy hopefully the numbers will begin to normalize toward an accurate level.

Sorry for the long note. You should always work from the facts and not an assumption.

Again, I enjoyed reading the info.

Bill

7 stillewaters { 05.19.11 at 10:04 am }

luckely , i am not the only one expressing some of his ideas about whether to take some salt or no salt at all !

but to clarify :
1 : i am not on a mission to elimate all salt-intake or to advocate some daily minimal salt-intake

2 : by coincidence , it happened that i took interest to look at salt , magnesium, seaweed ( iodium), .. ( as well as many other nutritional topics..)

3: i just gather for fun some scientific-based information from medical, nutritional, anti-aging specialist-viewpoints ( internet, books, ..) and finally make some decision to yes or not change anything ( hopefully for the better) in my vegetarian diet : very high in fruit and fruit-like tender vegetables, low in poly-unsaturated fats and nuts , without any diary or soya product, without any grain (except sometimes pseudo-grains), with sometimes legumes (peas, beans, mais..) , … except from eating eggs and honey i eat no animal product at all ( no fish-oils, ..)

4 : to judge that minimal salt-intake has changed anything in my day-to-day energy is very difficult to say , the only thing i can say is that including some daily seaweed improves ones energy
( your functioning of the thyroid will improve, but be careful : too much iodium-intake from seaweed is also very bad for ones health)

8 stillewaters { 05.19.11 at 10:30 am }

i have looked again in the book from Dr. Eric De Maerteleire , published in 2010 for a very wide public

He is a belgian university-professor specialized in the analysis of food , and has a year-long passion for the relation between food and health

i guess one can find here very accurate figures about salt :
……………………………………………………………..

” our body uses up daily :
500 mg to 750 mg salt ( = 200 to 300 mg natrium ) ”

” 1 teaspoon of salt = 2 g salt ”
…………………………………………………………….

so “roughly”, one could say that the minimal quantity for salt-intake ( from some source ), in order to compensate for the daily salt-losses is : 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

he is very correctly telling you also that too much salt-intake is also harmful : in Japan many people use up to 5 teaspoons/day of salt and are at very high risk of developping stomach-cancer

PS :

1g = 0.002204… pounds
1000 mg ( milligram ) = 1 g ( gram )

Swayze Reply:

One can easily get 500 mg eating fresh fruits and veggies and including sodium-rich foods like celery and cantaloupe. For instance, 10 medium stalks of celery contains about 320 mg of sodium.

9 stillewaters { 06.08.11 at 9:54 am }

I have been able to look more deeply into this salt (sodium)
quest

Beyond the usual diet recommendations , i have found now a text from a french researcher , PIERRE MENETON , who has scientific healthconcerns about the way our food-industry is putting much too much added salt in our food

He studied the sodium/potassium ratio of the diet of several terrestial mammals and native people living in non-industrialized environments

you can find his text ( in french ) on :

http://www.aprifel.com/articles-sante,impr.php?m=3&rub=34&sousrub=12&a=906

Title : ” Pourquoi lutter contre l’inversion du rapport sodium / potassium dans l’alimentation moderne ? “

10 stillewaters { 06.08.11 at 10:07 am }

The researcher Pierre Meneton gives the numbers for the diet of a chimp and for people living in the brazilian rainforest ( who eat almost only vegetables )

they have trough their diet 0.02 to 0.3 gram of sodium and 3 to 4 gram of potassium

Gives also other numbers of the S / P for native people who eat also meat

In a more recent article he states that the sodium / potassium ratio of a healthy diet should be :

S / P = 0.003 to 0.1

11 stillewaters { 06.10.11 at 9:14 am }

The article by Pirre Meneton continues :

People living in a modern industrialized environment ( eating food with salt added to it and using extra salt as spice ) have a much too high ratio S / P = 1.80 to 4.20

This high sodium-potassium ratio creates problems , because our so-called sodium-potassium “pumps” on a cellular level are not biologically designed to function with such a high S/P

He see this as a cause for the many modern cardiovascular health problems

12 stillewaters { 06.10.11 at 9:21 am }

So , according to this article by Pierre Meneton , a diet from almost only fruits & vegetables will provide you with more than enough potassium intake , namely 4.000 mg / day

This is well above the daily need for an adult for potassium ,
which is 2.000 mg / day ( number from a book on Nutrition )

A daily intake of potassium exceeding 25.000 mg / day
is considred to have toxic effects

13 stillewaters { 06.10.11 at 9:29 am }

But it is the daily sodium intake that has to be watched over

According to the article by Pierre Meneton , a diet of almost only fruits & vegetables will provide you with :

0.02 gram to 0.3 gram sodium / day

or expressed in milligram (mg) it looks a bit better :

20 mg to 300 mg sodium / day

The daily need for an adult person for sodium is

300 to 500 mg of sodium /day

( number taken from a book on Nutrition )

14 stillewaters { 06.10.11 at 9:52 am }

To end my comments on the salt-issue , which have unvoluntary gone beyond my normal sparetime :-) , i would say that if one decides to use only fruits and vegetables to cover daily sodium-needs , it would be very wise :

1 : to include and increase the kinds of food which are rich in sodium

I have been reading here : “10 medium stalks of celery provide 320 mg of sodium ”
Oeps ! : i eat only 1 big celery / week , but luckily i eat normally daily some seaweed , low in iodine
( seaweed high in iodine is not recommended to eat daily )

2 : keep a record of his/hers diet , and make an estimation of the total sodium-content of the foods used , to see if one achieves to reach this daily minimal 300 to 500 mg sodium intake

3 : especially do so when doing physical training or excercise
( the daily need for sodium is increased )

15 Steve { 07.12.11 at 1:41 am }

So how do you get the required amount of iodine in your diet? If not iodized salt or fish… how?

stillewaters Reply:

Seaweed is a the only vegetable which is very rich in iodine, some species are more rich in iodine than others
In every nutrition book you’ll find the daily recommended intake of iodine
The trouble is to “translate” this daily iodine-intake into portions of the food itself
The books often don’t state clearly if they mean “weight of dehydrated seaweed” or “weight of soaked seaweed”
Hence the numbers of recommended ” portions of seaweed” are very different from one book to another
One has to eat seaweed with a lot of moderation ,
because too much iodine-intake is also very bad for one’s health ( don’t start the habit of eating lots of seaweed like japanese people do )
To include fish , iodized seasalt , or iodine-pills , is not at all necessary
Personally , i eat daily very little seaweed, just a few bites as a”snack” , never use it as a main-vegetable in a meal , and i don’t worry at all about shortage of iodine !
:-)

16 Janelle { 02.17.12 at 12:01 am }

Can you tell me what you think about companies that sell trace minerals (usually over 65 minerals and they often contain Silica, Oxide, Lithium, Boron, etc)? Two companies that come to mind are Azomite (mostly for animals and plants and Concentrace.