Doctors tell us to restrict our salt intake for health reasons, but salt therapies have been used to treat common ailments for centuries. Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral by Mark Bitterman traces the mineral’s history, extolling the health virtues of this naturally occurring element. Here are 10 ways to use and enjoy salt this winter:
1. Soak in salt. Many people know Epsom salts as an inexpensive soak for muscle aches. Did you know they are also full of skin rejuvenating and bone-healthy magnesium? The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in fat, sugar, salt and animal protein, is thought to be a contributing factor in magnesium deficiency. Add two cups of Epsom salts to your tub and soak for at least 15 minutes to boost your magnesium levels, says Claudia Keel, a New York-based herbalist and the Weston A. Price Foundation NYC chapter leader.
2. Exfoliate with salt. Salts from Israel’s Dead Sea, with high amounts of magnesium, potassium and calcium, are known to have detoxifying health benefits for your body. Calcium is effective in preventing water retention, increasing circulation, and strengthening bones and nails. Potassium energizes the body, helps balance skin moisture, and should be replenished after intense exercise. Try: The Seaweed Bath Co.’s Wildly Natural Seaweed Powder ($20; seaweedbathco.com).
3. Illuminate with salt. Light a fragrant ginger and sea salt candle from Illume Candles ($14; illumecandles.com). This candle is crafted from a soy and beeswax blend with essential oils for a clean burn. The scent of orange zest, ginger, lemon and eucalyptus will help you leave the workday behind.
4. Cook in salt. If you’re entertaining this holiday season, consider baking a whole fish in a salt crust, which results in an amazingly tender, moist dish. You’ll need about twice the weight of the fish in salt to make an inch thick crust all around. Mark Strausman, executive chef of Fred’s at Barney’s in New York, recommends using inexpensive kosher salt.
5. Preserve in salt. Some of the oldest and best types of natural foods for intestinal health are lacto-fermented vegetables like cabbage (aka sauerkraut). The salt acts as a preservative, enabling the production of beneficial enzymes with natural antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic properties, according to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions (Newtrends Publishing, Inc., 1999). You can easily make your own sauerkraut or try Eden Foods Organic Sauerkraut ($4; edenfoods.com)
Salt image via Shutterstock