Forms of Salt
Salt is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous seasoning, the word “salt” can also be used as a language in some cultures; for example if someone say to you “salt for you” this means “nothing for you” whether it be food, a drink and so on. Fleur de sel, a natural sea salt from the surface of evaporating brine in saltpans, which has a unique flavor and varying from region to region.
Completely raw sea salt is bitter because of the magnesium and calcium compounds, and thus is rarely eaten. Unrefined sea salts are also commonly used as ingredients in bathing additives and cosmetic products. One example is bath salts, which uses sea salt as its main ingredient and combined with other ingredients is used for its alleged healing and therapeutic effects.
Refined salt, which is most widely used presently, is mainly sodium chloride. Food grade salt accounts for only a small part of salt production. Salt has great commercial value because it is a necessary ingredient in many manufacturing processes. A few common examples include the production of pulp and paper, setting dyes in textiles and fabrics, and the making of soaps and detergents. The manufacture and use of salt is one of the oldest chemical industries.
Salt can be obtained by the evaporation of sea water, usually in shallow basins warmed by sunlight; salt so obtained was formerly called bay salt, and is now often called sea salt or solar salt. Rock salt deposits are formed by the evaporation of ancient salt lakes, and may be mined conventionally or through the injection of water. The raw salt is collected and then it is refined to purify to improve its storage and handling characteristics. Purification usually involves recrystallization. In recrystallization, a brine solution is treated with chemicals that precipitate most impurities (largely magnesium and calcium salts).
Table salt is refined salt, which contains about 97% to 99% sodium chloride. It usually contains substances that make it free-flowing (anti-caking agents) such as sodium silicoaluminate or magnesium carbonate. To prevent the salt in shakers from absorbing extra moisture adding a few grains of uncooked rice is helpful.
Additives in Table Salt
Most table salt sold for consumption contains a variety of additives, which address a variety of health concerns, especially in the developing world. The amounts of additives vary widely from country to country.
Iodine and Iodide
Iodized saltcontains compounds that are added to table salt. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people. Iodine deficiency commonly leads to thyroid gland problems, specifically endemic goiter, a disease characterized by a swelling of the thyroid gland, usually resulting in a bulbous protrusion on the neck.
Iodized table salt has significantly reduced disorders of iodine deficiency in countries where it is used. Iodine is important to prevent the insufficient production of thyroid hormoneshypothyroidism, which can cause goiter, cretinism in children, and myxedema in adults.
In “doubly fortified salt,” both iodide and iron salts are added. This additive alleviates iron deficiency anemia, which interferes with the mental development of an estimated 40% of infants. A typical iron source is ferrous fumarate.
Another additive, especially important for pregnant women, is folic acid (vitamin B9), which gives the table salt a yellow color. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) and anemia, which affect young mothers.
Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems, or death. Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication (hyponatremia).
Death can occur by ingesting a large amount of salt in fact deaths have also resulted from attempting to use salt solutions as emetics, forced salt intake, and accidental confusion of salt with sugar in child food.
The effect of salt consumption on long-term health outcomes is controversial. Salt reduction appears to have little or no effect on mortality [and its effect on morbidity is unknown. Some associations include:
- Stroke and cardiovascular disease.
- High blood pressure: Evidence shows an association between salt intakes and blood pressure among different populations and age range in adults. Reduced salt intake also results in a small reduction in blood pressure.
- Left ventricular hypertrophy(cardiac enlargement): “Evidence suggests that high salt intake causes left ventricular hypertrophy, a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease, independently of blood pressure effects there is accumulating evidence that high salt intake predicts left ventricular hypertrophy” salt (sodium) intake, combined with an inadequate intake of water, can cause hypernatremia. It can exacerbate renal disease.
- Edema: A decrease in salt intake has been suggested to treat edema (fluid retention).
- Stomach cancer is associated with high levels of sodium, “but the evidence does not generally relate to foods typically consumed in the UK However, in Japan, salt consumption is higher.
The Cochrane Collaboration found that “a modest and long term reduction in population salt intake would result in a lower population blood pressure, and a reduction in strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure. “ Furthermore, our study is consistent with the fact that the lower the salt intake, the lower the blood pressure.” Some isolated cultures, such as the Yanomamiin South America, have been found to consume little salt, and are still capable of regular activity. This may indicate an adaptation of humans to low levels of sodium that originated in the predominantly vegetarian diet of human primate ancestors.”
According to The Mayo Clinicand Australian Professor Bruce Neal, the health consequences of ingesting sea salt or regular table salt are the same, as the content of sea salt is still mainly sodium chloride. However, Neal indicates that some salt substitutes with lower sodium content are healthier, as they contain both sodium chloride and potassium chloride, along with some magnesium chloride. Neal states that in its own right, the potassium in potassium chloride contributes to lowering blood pressure. Neal recommends reducing intake of any kind of salt.
Salting is also a good method use to preserve foods such as meats, fish, and fruits this is an ancient method that was use to prevent bacteria and other potentially pathogenic organism that could not survive in such a high salt contain.
Baking with Salt
In baking Salt is not only a flavor enhancer, but it also strengthens the gluten structure and makes it more stretchable, thus improving the structure of the bread. Salt reduces the growth of the yeast, which help to control the fermenting of the dough. As mentioned earlier salt is also a natural preservative which means it will prevent any undesirables from growing in the dough. Therefore, it is very important to carefully control the quantity of salt in a recipe because too much salt can turn your meal very distasteful.
Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt such as sea salt refined salt (table salt), and iodized salt. It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light gray in color, normally obtained from sea water and rock deposits. Edible rock salts may be slightly grayish in color because of mineral content. The sodium ion itself is used for electrical signaling in the nervous system. Because of its importance to survival, salt has often been considered a valuable commodity during human history. Soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and all-purpose seasonings tend to have high sodium content; therefore, these condiments can be use for cooking which also help to reduce your salt intake.
Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your dietary intake of sodium and depending on your age you should really limit your sodium. Or depending on your body mass (as sodium chloride) contains 39.3%. However, as salt consumption has increased during modern times, scientists have become aware of the health risks associated with too much salt intake, including high blood pressure.
Jeanette R Marcelle