The Health Benefits of Unrefined Sea Salt
Unrefined sea salt consists of mineral constituents that come straight from the sea. As you may be aware, sea water contains a large amount of dissolved oxygen. Many people use sea salt on a daily basis for its de-mineralizing effects on food. Sea salt has been used for millennia as an essential cooking ingredient. Today, it is used for other purposes as well, including de-mineralizing soups, heavy sauces, pickling and aging vegetables and fruits, and even for medical purposes ( iodine tablets, for example).
Salt is a substance that has both a soft and a rock form. The crystal structure is found in all salt forms, with the exception of very pure samples. Unrefined salt consists of seawater, and is usually minimally processed — either mechanically, by heating or by natural evaporation. Unlike refined table salt, unrefined sea salt experiences little or no chemical treatment, leaving behind the rich, natural minerals found in saltwater seawaters.
Because unrefined sea salt contains numerous trace minerals, its use helps to replenish the human body’s intake of vital minerals like potassium, bromine, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Many essential nutrients are lost during commercial processing. However, these minerals can be restored by including unrefined sea salt in the diet.
Most table salt contains Sodium (Na+), which is a salt having a neutral value. High levels of sodium in the blood lead to the formation of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for strokes and heart attacks. Many people living in countries where table salt is heavily processed discover that their bodies are unable to eliminate this harmful substance. The synthetic process of refining table salt takes about one to two hours to produce the amount of sodium that is needed in modern diets. One to two pounds of this highly processed salt are consumed by Americans every day.
Salt and iodine have long been recognized as important for good health. Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones and the regulation of metabolism. Unrefined sea salt contains 35 percent less iodine than refined salt. This iodine deficiency can result in under-development of the thyroid, enlargement of the prostate, slow growth in children, and decreased sperm count in men. High levels of iodine are associated with breast cancer, poor immune function and irritability. Iodine deficiency can also lead to problems with the pituitary gland, thyroid, pancreas, and brain.
Potassium is found naturally in fresh fish, red meat, and poultry. However, scientists have discovered that the same nutrients are found in unrefined sea salt. In addition, it has been determined that people need a minimum of two grams of potassium per day to maintain normal body functions. Although most sea salt contains adequate levels of potassium, recent research has suggested that people living in regions with high consumption of potassium enriched food may experience a reduction in potassium levels.
The trace mineral magnesium plays an important role in the nerve and muscle function of the body. It helps prevent cramps and spasms, and reduces fatigue. Ingested magnesium helps to regulate blood pressure, control appetite, and alleviate a range of body conditions. As a result of the magnesium content in unrefined sea salt, it is often recommended as an alternative source of dietary magnesium. However, recent studies indicate that ingesting magnesium through eating whole food may actually reduce the absorption rate of magnesium in the body. Because of this, it is recommended that people consuming unrefined sea salt take a magnesium supplement instead of eating magnesium rich foods.
One of the major health benefits of unrefined salt is its contribution to the overall well-being of humans. Unlike refined and processed foods, this salt contains a wide range of naturally occurring minerals which contribute to optimal health. This includes magnesium, potassium, and sodium. However, the concentration of these minerals in unrefined sea salt varies significantly from one type of rock to another. Therefore, it is essential to consume this kind of salt in moderation to reap the health benefits.