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A Salt
Salt or a sodium chloride *(NaCl)* is a dietary mineral essential for the existence of animal life. Also known by the names of common salt, table salt, or halite, this chemical compound is responsible for the salinity of the ocean and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms. It is used as a condiment and a food preservative but doesn't contain calories, proteins, or carbohydrates. Approximately 0.3933 grams of sodium, and 0.6067 grams of chlorine is present in one gram of sodium chloride.

Salt is a necessary constituent of the human body. It is the only mineral for which we have an innate craving. The sodium and chloride elements of the salt helps the kidneys to regulate the body's fluid levels, besides maintaining the life-sustaining balance of acids and bases.

Brief History of the Salt

  • The Chinese were the first people  seem to have been harvesting salt from a salt lake, Lake Yuncheng, by 6000 BC
  • The Egyptians, from the period of 3000 BC used salt to preserve meat, fish and mummies
  • Chinese written records belonging to the period of 800 BC, suggest that people in China were producing salt by filling clay jars with ocean salt water and boiling it until the water boiled away and only the salt was left
  • The Etruscans in Italy, and the early Romans, and the Carthaginians in North Africa, also used evaporation to produce salt
  • It was an important medium of exchange in the commercial ventures across the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Adriatic seas, and has been subject to severe taxation in Asian countries from ancient to modern times
  • Marco Polo discovered that Tibetans used salt cakes stamped with the imperial seal of the great Kublai Khan as money
  • In the history of Indian Independence, Mahatma Gandhi took a long parade called "Dandi March" or "Salt SathyaGraha" against taxes levied by the then British rulers for the export of salt, as this would affect the poor "salt-makers".
Various Salts of the Earth
There are a number of natural salts which differ on their mineral compositions and flavour. The following are the major varieties of the natural salt:

  • Table Salt: A standard white crystalline form of especially sodium chloride condiment salt used to season food at the table
  • Iodized Salt: Table salt (sodium chloride) fortified with the mineral potassium iodide, a source of the essential nutrient iodine
  • Sea Salt: Also termed as 'Dead Sea Salts', they are produced by evaporation of sea water either by solar or kiln drying. For centuries, they have been used for their therapeutic benefits. Dead Sea salts are known for their high mineral content. Fleur de sel, "flower of salt," is one of the best known sea salts, harvested in France and renowned for its delicate flakes and fine flavor
  • Kosher Salt: A variety of edible salt, it consists of the chemical compound sodium chloride but does not contain additives. Many cooks prefer Kosher Salt to other salts for its superior flavor, larger grains and coarse texture
  • Seasoned Salt: Table salt flavored with ingredients like vegetable extracts, spices, herbs, other flavourings, and sometimes monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Rock Salt: A salt derived from the huge seams of impacted salt that have formed below the dried-out, underground saline lakes of prehistoric times. This grayish rock salt is often used for freezing ice cream and melting icy sidewalks.

Salt & Health
Needless to say that salt is an essential element for the existence of animal life. Life itself would be impossible without it, since the human body requires salt in order to function properly. Nutritionists recommend about 3 to 8 grams of salt a day in an adult diet. Lets examine the chemical composition of a salt. In fact salt is a composition of many natural minerals and every element has its own medicinal properties.

The following chart describes the major constituents of salt together with their medicinal properties:

  • Sodium: It purifies blood and helps in curing acidity gaseous effect
  • Chlorine: This element of salt makes the body free from hazardous elements
  • Calcium: Helps in formation and growth of bones and the body
  • Phosphorus: The presence of this element in salt sharpens the mind (brain), besides ensuring proper functioning of the body
  • Iron: Helps in absorbing oxygen and discharging carbon-DI-oxide
  • Manganese: Helps to balance salt proportion in the body
  • Potassium: Strengthens the nerves, heart and liver
  • Copper: Adds iron contends to the body
  • Sulpher: Purifies the blood & skin
  • Silicon: Helps to strengthen eyes and ears
  • Magnesium: Acts as a general health tonic
  • Fluorine: Strengthens the bones and controls and acidity.

Health Benefits

  • It maintains the electrolyte balance inside and outside of cells
  • Ease stress and improves sleep and concentration
  • Help muscles and nerves to function properly
  • Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Help prevent artery hardening and blood clots
  • Make insulin more effective
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improve oxygen use
  • Flush toxins
  • Improve absorption of nutrients
  • Help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins
  • Help prevent or ease migraine headaches
  • Expectant mothers are advised to get enough salt. Increased salt intakes have been used successfully to combat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
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