How many of you have said the words “please pass the salt,” without having first tasting your food? It is a common thing most Americans do. I will even admit to doing it myself from time to time. Just imagine if three days out of a week you added more salt to a meal than was necessary. It would add up rather quickly.
Salt comes from seawater that is boiled down or is brought to the surface as brine. It also can be mined from dried up water sources. Salt was not always a tabletop item. Throughout history, salt can be found in religion, economics, and war. Various religions use salt in their ceremonies because of its purifying qualities. One example is a sumo match. Each wrestler throws salt onto the mat before entering to purify the ring. Salt was and still is considered a valuable resource and is coveted in all parts of the world. Wars have even been fought over salt. “In 1777, Lord Howe made a successful attempt to capture General Washington’s stock of salt” (TIME Magazine). Economically, it was a huge trading commodity in the sense that it was traded as huge slabs of salt for gold. Concerning food, salt most commonly was used to preserve meats from spoiling. “Today salt is widely used in the chemical industry, and also for water softening” (Nordqvist).
Salt is capable of more than enhancing flavors in a meal. Sodium balances the water levels in our bodies. It also helps muscles and nerves function. It is involved in some of the largest functions of the body. Since sodium is usually found in our blood, we do blood tests to indicate our sodium levels. I am someone that is constantly drinking water. I joke with all my doctors that ask “if I drink enough water”. I say I drink too much water. Finally, a doctor believed me when my sodium levels were low for my body. “The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that daily you only consume 2,300 mg of sodium and those 51 and older consume 1,500 mg” (World). WEBMd explains that low sodium levels are extremely rare. However, high sodium levels cause high blood pressure that can cause a number of heart problems, stroke, or kidney failure (Sodium).
An event that I was not aware of is World Salt Awareness Week. It is March 11th and 17th each year. The idea of the week is to have everyone ask for less salt on his or her food. Therefore, showing chefs and others that food can still be enjoyed with less salt. I think this is an amazing idea! For just a week read the labels of your food, do not add more salt to a meal when preparing it, and ask chefs to make your meal with less salt. This is a way to open your eyes to how much sodium you yourself consume. It’s the small steps that you can take, like simply making yourself aware, that will lead to the big changes in your diet and life.
“A Brief History of Salt.” TIME Magazine. (2013): Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,925341-1,00.html>.
Nordqvist, Christian. “What is Salt?.” Medical News Today. (2013): Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146677.php>.
“Sodium in Blood.” WEBMd. (2013): Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/sodium-na-in-blood>.
“World Salt Awareness Week.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013): Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Sodium/index.html>.