Showing posts with label Iodine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iodine. Show all posts

Aug 22, 2014

Another Salt Study

Adding to the library of salt studies is yet a new one which again finds that salt is not that bad and that too little salt may be as bad for us as too much salt. The same can be said for calories or carbohydrates.

More than 100,000 people from the general public in 17 countries were observed for nearly four years and sodium levels were determined from urine tests. The researchers found people who consume 3 to 6 grams of sodium a day (salt contains about 39% sodium by weight) had the lowest risk of heart problems or death from any cause. About three-fourths of the world's population is in the ideal range, including the US, which averages 4 grams a day salt consumption.

The new study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the US's daily consumption of about 3,400 milligrams is not only perfectly fine, but may be healthier than abstaining. It suggests eaters should shoot for between 3,000 and 6,000 mg of salt each day. Dr. Suzanne Oparil, a cardiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who wrote an editorial accompanying the publication, added, "Japan, one of the highest salt consumers, has one of the longest lifespans."

Table salt also contains iodine, and desiccants to keep it from clumping. Sodium is essential for human nutrition, but too much sodium or too little sodium raises health risks. Sodium levels generally correlate with the risk of high blood pressure, but correlation (are related) is not causality (one causes the other). Chlorine is also important to overall health. Our bodies, like salt water swimming pools separate sodium from chlorine for use.

Potassium, found in vegetables and fruits appears to lower blood pressure and heart risks, and offsets sodium's effect. Potatoes, bananas, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, apricots, salmon, and mushrooms are high in potassium.

Determining that worldwide deaths are caused by one ingredient, without relation to complete diet, or other factors, is like saying global warming is caused only by CO2, or that drinking only diet soda makes us fat.

As with all studies, results 'should be taken with a grain of salt'. Reducing or increasing one item from the panoply of food we ingest is interesting fodder for highly funded studies, but taking results too seriously can be hazardous to our health.

Feb 1, 2014

Kosher Salt Facts

Kosher salt is not kosher, does not come from the Dead Sea, is not necessarily blessed by a rabbi, and may contain additives, although it is usually free from iodine.

Kosher salt refers to any coarse-grain salt that is used to make meat kosher. Kosher salt usually is mineral salt, which may mined anywhere. A rabbi does not "bless" the salt to make it kosher (although Morton's Coarse Kosher Salt in the past has claimed to be packaged under Rabbinical supervision). As with any other salt, some commercial Kosher salt, uses anti-caking additives to make it free-flowing.

Aug 16, 2013

Iodized Salt is Good

The "iodized" emblazoned on the vast majority of salt sold in the US might go by largely unnoticed, but it turns out that it may have had such a profound effect on public health that it raised the national IQ.

Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable mental retardation, and a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows that after iodized salt was introduced in 1924, the most deficient quarter of the US population saw its IQs rise by a full 15 points, or one standard deviation. Averaged over the entire country, that equates to a 3.5 point bump per person — the equivalent of a whole decade’s worth of IQ growth according to the Flynn effect, which holds that IQ tends to increase over time. While salt has virtually extinguished iodine deficiency in the US, it remains a problem in much of the developing world, where some 30 percent of citizens do not have access to it.

May 22, 2013

Morton Salt Facts

Difficult to imagine a barbecue without some salt for the ribs, burgers, and fries. Also difficult to think of Morton's Salt without thinking of the umbrella girl (when it rains it pours).

During the 1880s, Joy Morton invested in a Chicago-based salt company. Salt was big business in those days, largely fueled by the demand of the explorers and pioneers who were settling the American West. Salt is a critical component of any diet and throughout history has been critical to various types of food preservation.

Salt is hygroscopic, which causes it to absorb water from the air around it. When water is absorbed, the salt tends to clump. Morton's solved this problem in 1911 by adding an anti-caking agent, magnesium carbonate, to its product. It also put the salt in a cylindrical package to aid in keeping water out.

Morton hired an advertising agency to put together a marketing campaign to promote the anti-caking properties of his salt. The ad team came up with a long list of marketing plans. Morton’s son chose the umbrella-wielding girl, accidentally pouring salt in the rain. The illustration epitomized wholesomeness, innocence and the value of Morton salt to pour easily, even if you are standing in the rain.

The additional ingredients did help, but salt still tended to clump and people put a few grains of rice in salt shakers to absorb moisture. Salt producers often add trace amounts of iodine to salt to prevent iodine deficiency, or folic acid to reduce anemia, both of which are a serious problem around the world. Today there are more than a half dozen common additives to reduce clumping, reduce health defects, and add flavors. About 17% of all salt production is used for food. The bulk of the rest is used in manufacturing, dyeing, and in soaps and detergents.

Judas Iscariot is depicted knocking over a jar of salt in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper. Spilled salt was considered a bad omen and still is for some people.

Feb 1, 2013

Table Salt vs. Kosher Salt

Salt is another game day treat that goes on almost everything. The primary ingredient in each type is sodium chloride. US requires food-grade salt be a minimum of 97.5% pure.

Table salt usually contains an anti-clumping agent, like calcium silicate, and also iodine. Kosher salt usually does not contain either. In the old days, people used to put a few grains of rice in their salt shaker to keep the salt from clumping.

The main difference between Kosher salt and regular salt is the grain size, with table salt being much smaller, because Kosher salt is less processed.

Kosher salt is not called “Kosher” because the salt is certified as kosher, but because this type of salt was used in the process of koshering meat to remove surface blood from meat without making the meat too salty.

Incidentally, iodine was first added to salt commercially in the United States in 1924 by the Morton Salt Company at the request of the government, because people weren't getting enough iodine in their diets. This caused many people to develop goiters or swelling of the thyroid gland. The practice was taken from the Swiss, who began adding iodine to salt many years earlier. Today most people get enough iodine in their diets, but many government health agencies around the world still recommend adding it to salt.

Aug 1, 2012

Scratch Remedies

Most folks under 30 have never heard of using the relatively painless Mercurochrome in lieu of that nasty stinging Iodine. It stained your flesh pinkish-red. The FDA put limitations on the sale of Mercurochrome in 1998 and stated that it was no longer considered 'Generally Recognized As Safe' over-the-counter product. The main active ingredient in Mercurochrome is mercury.

Speaking of Iodine, it burned like fire when applied to an open wound, because it had an alcohol base. Many doctors today use a water-based iodine as an antiseptic, as it has one of the broadest germ-killing spectrums. This old school remedy is rarely found in home first aid kits anymore. Alas, change comes too late for some of us.

Mar 11, 2011


In the early 19th century, Bernard Courtois had a factory that produced saltpeter (potassium nitrate), which was a key ingredient in ammunition, and thus a hot commodity in Napoleon’s France. On top of that, Courtois had figured out how to fatten his profits and get his saltpeter potassium cheaply. He collected the seaweed that washed up daily on the shores, burned it, and extracted the potassium from the ashes.

One day, while his workers were cleaning the tanks used for extracting potassium, they accidentally used a stronger acid than usual and strange clouds billowed from the tank. He noticed dark crystals on all the surfaces that had come into contact with the fumes. He had them analyzed and discovered previously unknown element, which he named iodine, after the Greek word for “violet.”

Iodine is plentiful in saltwater and concentrated in seaweed. It was soon discovered that goiters, enlargements of the thyroid gland, were caused by a lack of iodine in the diet. Eventually, in addition to its other uses, iodine his routinely added to table salt. Of course you know that they also put in other ingredients to keep the salt from clumping like it used to. For you old timers, rice in the shaker is no longer needed. Check the container next time you buy salt to see if it is iodized.