Salt – the good, the bad, the culinary and the essential

Salt – the good, the bad, the culinary and the essential

Salt is an essential nutrient;

something that is easy to forget with all the negative attention given to salt. Back in the day, salt used to be in limited supply; so much so that is was a form of currency. The word “salary” is said to originate from the word “salt”.

We need salt every day, but just 5g

We would not function without salt as every cell in our body, especially muscle cell function, relies on sodium and potassium molecules flowing across our cell membranes to pump life into action. Even the all important Vitamin C relies heavily on sodium from salt for transport around our bodies. So why are we told to eat less? Because, as always, too much of a good thing is not good, and the balance between how much sodium we eat versus how much potassium we get is well out of balance.

Many processed foods overdose salt

The difficulty arises when you are not in control of your salt use and you rely on the industrial food chain to salt your food for you. Salt is often added as the easiest common flavour enhancer, as well as a food preservation method. It is the industrial approach of convenience foods that is leading us to eat nearly twice as much salt as we should consume. The answer is simple; buy less processed finished meals and dose the salt yourself. But which salt to choose???

"Natural" versus "industrial" salts - is there a difference?

Natural salt means that the salt is less refined and processed to an industrial consistency. Otherwise all salt is effectively natural in its origin, and often mined from prehistoric ancient sea deposits. Natural salts are often promoted as the best salts, and they are the prettiest salts, but there are not a lot of health benefits in choosing pink natural salts over purified white table salt as other trace elements in salt exist in such small quantities. Highly industrialised salts are, generally speaking, a perfectly fine source of sodium. Food safety can be one reason to choose your salt as well. There are not a lot of food safety issues related to salt, but some Himalayan Salts include high levels of lead (Fayet-Moore et al 2020). Further, many industrialised salts are iodised to address iodine deficiencies in food. 

Supplementation of salt with iodine has been hailed as one of the most successful health interventions!

Many industrialised salts however, do have iodine added for population health. Many governmental health authorities have recommended food interventions where population scale deficiencies have led to widespread health issues. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of brain damage globally still, and supplementation through salt has been hailed as one of the most successful nutritional interventions in human health. It makes all the sense in the world that the trace amounts of iodine that we need in our diets get delivered through salt as a small but daily dietary intake. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 10% of Australians actually choose to buy iodised salt, and we still have people with iodine deficiencies in Australia. Iodine deficiency can contribute to hormonal imbalances and thyroid dysfunction, as well as optimal brain development in young people.

Choosing PhycoSalt means that you can get iodine naturally from seaweed

PhycoSalt includes both our green seaweed with a breadth of trace elements, as well as a more iodine rich, organic, hand-harvested, brown, Wakame kelp from Tasmania (because brown kelp often has higher iodine than green seaweeds). This means that if you replaced all of your 5g salt dose per day with PhycoSalt, you can achieve to 40% (or 60 micrograms) of your iodine requirements of 150 micrograms/day. In addition, the additional flavour enhancing benefits of the seaweed in our salt, means that it is easier to use less salt than you might be using to flavour your meals, if your doctor has asked you to reduce sodium intake.

There are definitely sustainability and culinary reason to choose natural salt

Because natural salts go through less processing and purification, they are usually less energy intensive in production, but they often have a softer, less sharp taste than highly refined salts. This is purely a choice of flavour experience and we talk more about the culinary reason to choose natural salts further below.

Industrialised salts can have a sense of bitterness as they are very dry, dense and sometimes flow agents are added. In contrast, naturally dried salts tend to flow less easily, but have moisture, porosity, texture and often some minor traces of other minerals that soften the bitterness. Natural salts are a choice for culinary experience rather than a choice of health. 

Why is PhycoSalt a better solution?

We developed PhycoSalt  to be a both a culinary experience, alongside the health benefits from adding a natural source of iodine from seaweed. 

The culinary experience? Listen to a salt expert

As salt expert, Ben Jacobsen, suggested in a Huffington Post video, why not make your essential salt experience the best? PhycoSalt brings together the flavour and culinary experience of Australian Murray River pink salt with the softness of other minerals from natural drying, as well as the additional flavour of seaweed. Murray River pink flake salt carries the seaweed flakes well, and you don't neeed a grinder as for rock salt. Flake salt also has a textural contrast in food with bursts of flavour.

PhycoHealth recommends

1) Stick to less than 5g of salt per day

2) make your salt iodised with PhycoSalt providing natural iodine from seaweeds

3) Make your salt a table feature and a culinary experience with a story

4) make sure that you balance your sodium intake with adequate potassium from foods like bananas (which is why we use Green banana powder in Phybre)