Showing posts with label Salt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salt. Show all posts

Feb 3, 2020

Salt vs. Sodium

Salt and sodium are not exactly the same thing. Salt contains sodium along with another mineral, chloride, and the chemical name for salt is sodium chloride (NaCl).

About 90% of the sodium we consume comes from salt. On food nutrition labels these terms are often used interchangeably even though there is a difference. Sodium is used on the nutrition information panel of labels because it is the sodium portion of the salt that is relevant for health.

Aug 17, 2018

Salt Reduction Redux

You may have noticed some foods are a bit more bland than they used to be. Food companies have been voluntarily reducing sodium (salt) in foods for at least the past seven years. The reduced salt content does not show up on the label as 'low sodium' does not sell well, except in specific cases. Foods that have been altered include: ketchup, pizza, bacon, Subway sandwiches, flavored rice, many restaurant meals, and more.
Salt contains minerals necessary for proper body function. The sodium in salt is an electrolyte, and the balance of the electrolytes in our bodies is essential for our cells and organs to work normally. Sodium regulates water in the body, and sodium's movement through cells in the body is critical. Salt for food is used to control microbial growth, which can cause food to spoil and to cause illness. Sodium also is used for taste, texture, leavening, and fermentation.
Even though it has been medically proven that increased salt intake does not increase blood pressure or lead to heart attacks and strokes, old myths live on. As recently as 2016, the FDA was still pushing its agenda to reduce salt. However, the president of the Salt Institute said the initiative was "not based on sound science." She added, "The Italians eat about 40 percent more sodium than Americans, yet they have better cardiovascular health than Americans." Many studies show a correlation, but do not show a cause from salt intake.
Some scientists say data has emerged showing that dropping below a certain level is actually dangerous, and raises the risk of heart attacks and other bad health outcomes. A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that cutting too much sodium could be harmful. Evidence from these studies does not support reduction in sodium intake to below 2,300 mg per day, says the IOM. “As you go below the 2,300 mark, there is an absence of data in terms of benefit and there begin to be suggestions in subgroup populations about potential harms.”

As my mother used to say, "All things in moderation is the best way."

Oct 20, 2017

Salt Quickie

One third of all the salt produced in the US is used to melt ice on roads.

Sep 22, 2017

Salty Tip

Before frying, put a pinch of salt in the pan. It should keep the oil from spattering so much.

Dec 4, 2015

Salty Fact

Morton Salt is the US leader in salt sales. Initially, salt was sold in bags, then boxes. There was a problem with the salt clumping, because of moisture. Morton discovered that adding magnesium carbonate to absorb moisture solved that problem, but, salt tended to get stuck in the corner of boxes, so the company came up with a round container. It costs more and that cost gets passed on to the consumer. All other salt companies have copied the round shape to sell salt. Morton sells salt in bulk, in other kinds of containers to institutions.

Jun 19, 2015

Ten Salt Types

Salt is the most important ingredient in cooking. Without it, most meals would taste bland and unexciting. Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Sodium and chlorine are absolutely essential for life in animals, including humans. They serve important functions like helping the brain and nerves send electrical impulses. The main difference between the salts is the taste, flavor, color, texture and convenience.

Refined Salt (table salt) is the most common. It is usually highly refined. It is heavily ground and most of the impurities and trace minerals are removed. The problem with heavily ground salt is that it can clump together. For this reason, various substances called anti-caking agents are added so that it flows freely. Food-grade table salt is almost pure sodium chloride, at 97% or higher. Iodine is often added to table salt.

Kosher Salt is used for all cooking. It dissolves fast, and its flavor disperses quickly, so chefs recommend tossing it on everything from pork roast to popcorn. Kosher salt got its name because its craggy crystals make it perfect for curing meat, a step in the koshering process. Cooks prize crystals like these, because their roughness makes it easy to pinch a perfect amount.

Himalayan Pink Salt is harvested in Pakistan. It is mined from the Khewra Salt Mine, the second largest salt mine in the world. Himalayan salt often contains trace amounts of iron oxide (rust), which gives it a pink color. It also contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and slightly lower amounts of sodium than table salt.

Black Salt, also known as Kala Namak, is actually a pinkish-grey color. It is mined in India and has a strong sulphuric smell. It is commonly used to spice food in Southeast Asia and has recently become more popular in the US among vegan chefs who use it for the flavor.

Flaked Sea Salt adds a complex flavor to steamed vegetables or shellfish. This salt adds a hint of briny flavor. It comes from England's Essex coast. Its texture is soft, with sheer, pyramid-like flakes. This is the fastest-dissolving of all of the salt grains.

Celtic Salt is a type of salt that originally became popular in France. It has a greyish color and also comes from and contains a bit of water, which makes it quite moist. Celtic salt contains trace amounts of minerals and is a bit lower in sodium than table salt.

Rock Salt is used for making ice cream and de-icing. Rock salt is paired with ice in old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream makers to regulate the temperature. It is also used to de-ice sidewalks and driveways during the winter. It is not sold for use directly on food. It is usually packaged in an organic, unprocessed form. It has large, chunky, non-uniform crystals. Minerals and other harmless impurities can give it a grayish color.

Crystalline Sea Salt is used for adding a pungent burst of flavor to just-cooked foods. These crystals can complement anything from a fresh salad to a salmon fillet. It comes from coasts from Portugal to Maine, California to the Pacific Rim. It can be either fine or coarse. The size of the irregular crystals affects how fast it dissolves. It varies in color, depending on the minerals it contains. These natural impurities can add subtle briny, sweet, or bitter flavors to the salts.

Fleur de Sel is a special-occasion table salt. It is delicately flavored and adds a perfect hint of saltiness to freshly sliced tomato or melon. It comes from coastal salt ponds in France. Some call it the caviar of sea salt and it is hand harvested. It is crystalline and melts slowly in the mouth.

Pickling Salt is used for brining pickles and sauerkraut. It is also used to brine a turkey, and is more concentrated than kosher salt. Pickling salt may come from the earth or the sea. It is almost one hundred percent sodium chloride and is the purest of salts.
Bottom line, the main purpose for salt is to add flavor, not nutrition.

Feb 27, 2015

Cholesterol and Salt

Hooray, bring on the bacon and eggs! Two recent reports are shaking up the food industry. Salt has recently been vindicated by scientists. "Cardiovascular disease, heart failure, or death in older Americans are not linked to salt intake", according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine on January 19, 2015. This follows last year’s Institute of Medicine report, which also raised questions about sodium recommendations. The IOM committee found that there was no clear evidence to support limiting sodium to 1,500 milligrams or less per day.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in August 2014 which reported that people who consume less 1,500 milligrams of sodium are more likely to die than people who eat between 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams of sodium per day.

Now this new report says, cholesterol is no longer a "nutrient of concern," according to the US leading nutritional panel in February 2015.

In its 2015 version of the guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture, it will no longer place an upper limit on cholesterol, "because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol." The draft report said, "Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for over consumption." The recommended changes were compiled by 14 nationally recognized nutrition, medicine, and public health experts. It makes Dr. Adkins appear absolutely prescient.

Health experts agreed it is no longer necessary to consider a food's cholesterol content when making dietary decisions. The committee’s new report also advised eliminating 'lean meat'  as well as 'cutting back on red and processed meats' from the list of recommended healthy foods. The panel also said it OK to have three to five cups of coffee per day.

The science connecting high-cholesterol foods to the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the blood is lacking - not conclusive enough to warrant federal intake recommendations. Even the predictive value of bad cholesterol levels in looking at heart attack risk has shown to be weak by recent studies.

The new enemy is increased carbohydrates, according the current analysis of government data. It says that, "over the past 50 years, we cut fat intake by 25 percent and increased carbohydrates by more than 30 percent." That is what has led to the increase in obesity.

Other countries that offer dietary guidelines have long abandoned specific caps on cholesterol. According to David Klurfeld, a nutritional scientist at the USDA, "The US is the last country in the world to set a specific limit on dietary cholesterol." Finally science begins to trump headlines. Many of my friends know I have been a Cassandra of cholesterol for years. I wonder how long it will take for 'artery clogging' to be banished from the lexicon.

Nov 21, 2014

Holiday Home Hacks

Remove permanent marker by using toothpaste on it.
A Lint roller is perfect to dust your lampshades with.
Use bread, or a damp paper towel, or play-doh to pick up broken glass or spilled glitter.
Cut a grapefruit and add salt to clean stubborn tub dirt before company arrives.
Wrap your light strings around a hangar to keep them from getting all tangled.
Make a Christmas tree from jello shots to keep the fun going. You can use orange jello for Thanksgiving.

Bitter, Sweet, and Salty

Salty and sweet are distinct tastes which our taste buds are usually able to detect. However, if you add salt to some foods, they do not taste salty, but become sweeter tasting. This is because salt is not just a taste, it is also a taste enhancer.

Bitter and sweet cancel each other out to some degree. Think of adding sugar to naturally bitter coffee and you get the idea. It cancels/masks the bitterness. Some people add a bit of salt to the grounds before making coffee, for the same reason.

Pineapples are sweet, but also have some bitterness to them. If you neutralize the bitterness, it should taste sweeter. Adding salt can do this. When salt mixes with the pineapple, the salt splits up into sodium and chloride ions. The chloride is tasteless and our tongues ignore it. The sodium bonds with the acids in the pineapple and forms a similarly tasteless salt, but the bitterness effectively disappears. What remains is the sweetness of the pineapple. Add a little bit of salt to your fresh pineapple and enjoy the enhanced sweetness. It also works with watermelon, oranges, grapefruit, dark chocolate and other foods that are both bitter and sweet. Perhaps this is one reason why it is said that bacon is the food that makes other foods taste better. My father always salted apples before eating and usually paired with extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Adding salt works less well with canned or other processed fruits as many are already artificially sweetened.

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.

Apr 4, 2014

Perky Coffee

To perk up your morning cup of Joe, toss a dash of salt into the uncooked grounds to reduce bitterness. We are all aware of the health benefits of cinnamon; toss some cinnamon into the uncooked grounds to add a subtle flavor that is also good for you.

Mar 28, 2014

More Salt Facts

Salt is a terrific flavor enhancer, helping to reduce bitterness and acidity, and bringing out other flavors in the food.
Adding salt to bread dough controls the action of the yeast and improves the flavor. Bread made without salt will have a coarser texture and a blander flavor than bread made with salt.
Try sprinkling salt on citrus fruit, melons, tomatoes, and even in wine to enhance flavor.
Adding a little salt balances the flavor of sweets like cakes, cookies, and candies.
Boiling eggs in salted water makes them easier to peel.
Adding a pinch of salt (preferably non-iodized) to cream or egg whites before they are whipped increases their volume and serves as a stabilizer.
Salt is a mineral, so it can be stored indefinitely without going stale. It won't taste any fresher if you grind it with a salt mill.
Salt has been used for millennia as a preservative for meats, fish, cheese, and other foods. It works by absorbing moisture from the cells of bacteria and mold through osmosis, which kills them or leaves them unable to reproduce.
Salting slices of eggplants helps draw out the bitter juices.

Mar 14, 2014

Salt and Grilling

Spring means time to clean the barbecue and get ready to grill. Salting meat after it is cooked helps the flavor, but salt draws moisture out of the surface of the meat. If salt is left on the surface of meat for a significant period of time, it will dehydrate the meat. Usually, this is not a good idea before cooking meat.

However, if the meat is going to be cooked quickly (like a grilled steak) and if the salt is added just before cooking, then the salt will neither help nor hurt the meat. This is because it is too short a period of time for the salt to dehydrate the surface of the meat.

Dec 27, 2013

Another use for Salt

One way to keep your clothes from fading is to turn them all inside-out before putting them through the wash. If yours have already faded, adding a couple of pinches of salt to your detergent will brighten your clothes in just one wash.

Dec 7, 2013

Food Myth Debunked

The myth is that adding salt to water changes the boiling point and cooks food faster. This is one of those food myths that doesn't want to die. You hear it repeated by home cooks and professional chefs, but any first year Chemistry student can show you how minor the effect is to alter the boiling point. In order to change water's boiling point appreciably, you would have to add so much table salt that the resulting salt water would be nearly intolerable. In spite of the boiling point myth, adding salt to pasta water makes the pasta more tasty.

Oct 4, 2013

What's in a Name, Corned Beef

The term 'corned beef' refers to the 'corns' of salt used to preserve the meat. Meat is treated with large grains of salt (corns) in a process known as salt-curing. Corn is used to describe any small hard particles or grains, in this case, salt. That is why corned beef tastes salty. The salt draws water out of the meat via osmosis, making it more difficult for microorganisms to breed in the meat.

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.

Apr 17, 2013

Salt Myth Debunked

There continues a myth that originated in the 1940s when a professor used salt-reduction to treat people with high blood pressure. Science has since found out that there is no reason for a person with normal blood pressure to restrict salt intake.

Decades of scientific research have failed to prove any benefits of a low-salt diet, and in fact tend to show the opposite. Studies have also failed to prove salt's connection to heart disease.

Salt is essential for life. Natural salt is important to many biological processes, including:
Being a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid, and even amniotic fluid;  Carrying nutrients into and out of your cells;  Increasing the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning; and  helping your brain communicate with your muscles, so that you can move on demand via sodium-potassium ion exchange.

A Scottish Heart Health Study, was launched in 1984 by epidemiologist Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe and colleagues at the Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, Scotland. The researchers used questionnaires, physical exams, and 24-hour urine samples to establish the risk factors for cardiovascular disease in 7300 Scottish men. This was an order of magnitude larger than any intrapopulation study ever done with 24-hour urine samples. The BMJ published the results in 1988: Potassium, which is in fruits and vegetables, seemed to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Sodium had no effect.

A review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. University of Copenhagen researchers analyzed 114 randomized trials of sodium reduction, concluding that the benefit for hypertensives was significantly smaller than could be achieved by anti-hypertensive drugs, and that a "measurable" benefit in individuals with normal blood pressure of even a single millimeter of mercury could only be achieved with an "extreme" reduction in salt intake.

Recent studies, including those cited by Harvard University at St. George’s Medical School in London, have shown that potassium rich foods are an essential defense in helping to relieve high blood pressure. Potassium is an essential mineral that enables the body to maintain a healthy fluid and electrolyte balance, while also promoting optimal nerve and muscle functions.

If a person has high blood pressure he or she may become salt-sensitive. Hypertension is actually promoted more by excess fructose than excess salt. This can be relieved by reducing salt intake or increasing potassium intake, because it is the balance of the two that is important. Eating more potassium is probably more important than reducing salt.

Potassium is found in orange colored fruits and vegetables, including pumpkins, carrots, and apricots. Tomatoes and bananas are another source of high potassium. It is also found in artichokes, avocados, broccoli, dark chocolate, spinach, potatoes, yogurt, fish, and and a variety of beans.

Jul 27, 2012


Saltiness is one of the five primary basic tastes the human tongue can detect. Those five tastes being: salt, bitter, sweet, sour, and umami (it is from glutamic acid, which is found in many foods, particularly some meats, and is the basis of the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG).

Extra salt has other effects, beside simply making things more salty it helps certain molecules in foods more easily release into the air, thus helping the aroma of the food, which is important in perception of taste.

Adding a bit of salt will also decrease the bitter taste perception in food, which is why it is often sprinkled on grapefruit.

Salt does not suppress sweet or sour flavors as with bitter flavors, but balances out the taste by making the perceived flavor of sugary candies or lemons, less one dimensional.

Feb 3, 2012

More Salt Less Bacon

I think not. Some people are beginning to say that salt is the new bacon. However, bacon is not so hoidy toity. Bacon lovers love bacon and do not need fancy names and additional flavors to make it better. The price of bacon has gone up over twenty percent in the past three years, but that is nothing compared to the price of specialty salts.

New salt types include Himalayan or alder-smoked and many more. Salt is in chocolate, on caramels, and even chocolate covered bacon.

SaltWorks sells Black Hawaiian sea salt, Bolivian Rose salt, Merlot-infused crystals, and Yakima apple wood smoked sea salt. It even has salt and pepper tastings. Some specialty salts can cost $8 per ounce, or $128 per pound. Bacon salt is much cheaper.