Salt: Has it gotten a bad rep?

DSC00520 (400x276)Those with high blood pressure have been leery of salt for years. But just imagine trying to cook both savory or sweet dishes without that ubiquitous “pinch of salt.”

There is an old fairy tale regarding an aging king who wished to divide up his kingdom among his three daughters. So he asked the question: “Which of you love me the most?” The first daughter said she loved her father more than her finest silk gowns. The second said she loved her father more than her gold and bejeweled bangles and beads. The third daughter said, “I love you more than salt.”

The king was taken aback. He felt rejected and misunderstood and decided then and there to divide his kingdom among the first two daughters and banish the third from his castle with nothing more than a sack of salt slung over her shoulders.

As the story goes, the banished daughter drags the salt to another kingdom, finds work as a scullery maid in a far-off castle. Because this daughter is good, gentle, loving and beautiful (and because the story is a fairy tale), the prince of the castle falls in love with her and asks her to marry him.

In the meantime, the two ungrateful daughters have split the king’s spoils and kicked the king out of his own castle, where he wanders the earth as a beggar…until he comes upon a castle in the throes of wedding plans and begs at the castle gates to be allowed to eat the scraps from the table.

Well, you can guess what happens next. The daughter recognizes her father at once, and immediately orders the cooks preparing the wedding feast to make everything without salt. The guests are not pleased as everything tastes bland.  As soon as the beggar king tastes the soup, his eyes are opened. He realizes what is missing and salty tears well up in his eyes.

He misjudged the words of his youngest daughter who reveals herself and tells her father: “My love for you was like salt—invisible, but ever present in everything worth having, and an underlying element that gives both savor and joy.”  She could no more imagine living without loving him than she could imagine eating soup without salt.

Forgiveness abounds. Father and daughter are reunited. The unsavory food is thrown out and a new menu brought forth, this time with love and SALT.

Flash forward several hundred years and the salt we cook with today is not given good press.  Those with heart trouble eschew it; those with brittle bones blame it; those with kidney stones suspect it. To eat it or not to eat it, that is the question.

Comes the contrary opinions: “Salt is good for you if it’s mineral salts,” say the purists. “Modern table salt is a no-no, but consider the richness of the Himalayan rock salt, or the Celtic grey salt—both pride themselves on refusing modern refining methods of heating, and brag on traditional methods of harvesting. And, guess what, they actually have flavor!”

It’s been reported the unlike the sodium chloride we find in most grocery stores, unrefined rock salt contains more than 84 different minerals.  Says Dr. Barbara Hendel, a researcher and co-author of Water & Salt, the Essence of Life, “We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid.

“Moreover,” Dr. Hendel continues, “without mineral salts, there would be no movement, memory or thought…and your heart would not beat.”

Dr. Hendel explains that salt dissolves into mineral ions that conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. The simple act of drinking water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. Salt is also needed to balance PH levels in the body.

Some academic naturalists believe too little salt—not too much—is the cause of many health problems. It’s not so much that salt has changed as the human diet has eliminated many of the foods high in minerals (nuts, fruit and veggies) substituting processed and highly-refined foods which supply mineral-empty calories.

The key to health, the folks at GreenAcres believe, is healthy eating. And to that end, the health food store has staked its mission on education.

If you visit any one of our eight markets, check out the interesting mineral salts available in the bulk section of our stores.

  • Grey Sea Salt
  • Applewood Smoked Salt
  • Hawaiian Red Salt
  • Hawaiian Black Salt
  • Fleur de Sel
  • Himalayan Salt
  • Kosher Salt
  • Celtic Sea Salt

Each has a different flavor and different properties that are good for your health. You might try incorporating some of these salts into your cooking. As always, if you do, let us know what you think.

We’re all charged to be “The Salt of the Earth.” We’d better get on with it then, and why not make that first step to GreenAcres.