Salt has been one of the essential ingredients in cooking worldwide, which provides the seasoning that many of us like to taste in our daily meals, and is even used in the preparation of some sweets to enhance its flavor.
This mineral has not only been used for culinary purposes, since during the development of the Roman Empire, salt functioned as commercial currency, healing, and also to preserve food when there was no artificial refrigeration.
However, excessive consumption of this element can be harmful to health, which is why in this article we will explain in detail the properties, benefits, and uses of salt, in order to use it correctly in all its functions.
What is salt?
It is a condiment that is known in chemistry as sodium chloride (NaCl), since it is composed of 60% chlorine and 40% sodium, which has played an important role both in our cooking and in the vital functions of the organism. .
In fact, an article from the Cienfuego University of Medical Sciences in Cuba states that the body needs a certain amount of sodium for its proper functioning, in order to carry out homeostasis (regulation process of values in the organism) of the different body fluids.
Likewise, there are 3 types of common salt that vary according to their extraction, which are sea salt, which comes from the evaporation of the sea; rock salt, which is acquired from the halite rock; and vegetable salt, which is obtained when we boil grass plants.
Salt has a high content of properties that provide benefits to the body, if we consume it properly in our meals, thus becoming an essential ingredient in our daily diet, which is composed of:
Salt does not have vitamins within its composition like other seasonings; but it does fulfill some functions as if it had them, such as nourishing the cells of the body to strengthen our immune system against the threat of any virus.
The minerals in the salt vary depending on the procedure used to obtain it. An example of this is sea salt, which has all the components of the ocean, while black salt does not have sodium but does have sulfur.
Now, for every 100 grams of common salt we can acquire: 38,850 mg of sodium , 0.3 mg of iron, 8 mg of phosphorus, 1 mg of magnesium and 29 mg of calcium. While, sea salt contains sodium, fluorine, magnesium and iodine within its mineral properties.
On the other hand, the famous Himalayan pink salt has up to 84 natural components, among them we can mention the following minerals such as: sodium, iodine, fluoride, zinc , iron, calcium, potassium , and magnesium; these last 3 being responsible for its color.
Salt does not have calories or fat, however an exaggerated consumption of it can cause weight gain due to fluid retention caused by this mineral, due to the increase in body fluids in the body.
Health benefits of salt
Many health professionals state that salt is not only very useful in the kitchen, but also provides various benefits to the functioning of our body, some of which are the following:
Improves brain function
Sodium improves brain function, thanks to the fact that it stimulates nerve communication with muscles. On the other hand, the iodine that sea salt has helps prevent the development of brain diseases in children.
In this sense, an article by Dr. James Cole states that our brain cells live in a saline environment, so they need sodium to function properly; but it also exposes that an excess of salt can damage the brain .
Promotes the proper functioning of the nervous system
The sodium that salt has helps generate electrical stimuli in neurons that facilitate communication with other organs, leading to immediate responses to any nerve transmission caused by external situations.
Boosts the immune system
A study by Dr Mercola states that the nutrients that salt possesses help boost the immune system, since it increases the production of antibodies, which prevents us from contracting any cold, flu, and other viral conditions.
In the same way, this study shows that people who do not consume salt are more likely to have discomforts such as nausea, loss of energy, headache, and urinary incontinence, which makes it easier to obtain different diseases.
Promotes blood circulation
The moderate consumption of sea salt helps us to have a good blood circulation, since it normalizes the heartbeat and facilitates the blood to transit properly in the organism. In addition, it can prevent heart attacks and arteriosclerosis.
In the same way, black salt is a condiment of great benefit for circulation, since it raises hemoglobin levels, helps the production of red blood cells in the body, regulates the pH in the blood, and promotes the expulsion of body toxins.
Another of the characteristics of salt, in relation to the fact that it helps the body’s circulation, is that it balances blood sugar levels , which greatly helps people with diabetes, turning it into a kind of natural insulin. .
Balances cholesterol levels
A small spoonful of salt diluted in a glass of water works as a home remedy to balance high cholesterol levels in the body. Similarly, this mineral helps reduce lactic acid and uric acid in the body.
Regulates blood pressure
Salt has the power to regulate blood pressure , since sodium consumption can raise blood pressure values when they are below normal, thanks to the fact that it stimulates circulation and heart function.
In relation to the above, a study from McMaster University in Canada explains that people who consume low doses of salt are more likely to suffer cardiovascular accidents, heart attacks, and even death.
Similarly, the same study states that only people with hypertension should reduce salt intake so as not to raise blood pressure levels; while the others need to continue ingesting this ingredient.
Contributes to the proper functioning of muscles
Sea salt helps the proper functioning of our muscles, thanks to its potassium and magnesium components, which help reduce muscle tension when doing some highly demanding physical activity.
Improves digestive functions
The taste of salt in food stimulates the production of saliva and gastric juices to speed up the digestive process. Likewise, sodium chloride helps generate enzymes and acids to better digest food. In addition, it prevents acidity.
Improves bone health
The calcium that salt has plays an important role for bone health, since it is the main mineral to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
In this sense, other minerals in salt that help the bone system are fluoride and magnesium, since the first strengthens the bones and teeth, while the second helps their formation, being of great help for the children.
Contributes to the absorption of nutrients
Sodium plays a fundamental role in the intestine, for the absorption of nutrients such as amino acids and glucose. In the same way, chloride is an important component to generate gastric juice, which is responsible for absorbing nutrients from food.
Salt helps delay the biological aging process in the body, thanks to its composition of ions and sodium. Additionally, sea salt contains alkaline and antioxidant properties that reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
In the same way, salt can be used to make relaxing baths, which help to open the pores of the skin, relieve athlete’s foot, and improve dry skin problems. Likewise, the consumption of black salt provides strength and beauty to the hair.
Contributes to relaxation
The minerals that sea salt possesses are very useful for relaxing baths due to their anti-inflammatory properties, where magnesium sulfate, which reduces stress, and warm water, become a pleasant relaxation therapy.
How to use and consume salt properly?
After knowing the multiple benefits that salt brings us, it is important to know how to use and consume it without exceeding the recommended limits to avoid future health problems, for which we must take into account the following:
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the human being must consume a daily dose of 5 g of salt, which is equivalent to less than half a tablespoon, to have the necessary compounds of this mineral in the body.
For this reason, it is important to season food with small touches to taste and not eat very salty foods to avoid possible health complications. Like, do not exaggerate with the use of sauces, since they have a certain percentage of salt.
in relaxing baths
For those who want to relax with a sea salt bath at home, it is recommended to fill the bathtub with a comfortable temperature and add 1 kg of salt in it to imitate the sea, to relieve tired and sore muscles.
It is important to note that unrefined sea salt should be used exclusively, since it has not been subjected to chemical processes during its production and has the right amount of natural minerals so as not to harm the skin.
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.