What do you think of when you hear “salt and vinegar”? Potato chips? Salad dressing? Marinade? Whatever food comes to mind, it’s usually about the flavour, but did you know that these two staples can be nutritional powerhouses in your kitchen?
Salt or sodium chloride can be a controversial issue. We are told by many health experts to reduce or even remove salt from our diets. And they’re right…. sort of. It all depends on the quality.
We need salt; it is essential for our health and we would die without it. It’s necessary for electrolyte balance, the nervous system, the circulatory system, adrenal function, cellular metabolism and to help digest carbs and protein. It also adds fantastic flavour to our foods.
Many people use commercially refined table salt at home as do restaurants and processed food manufacturers. This type of salt is highly processed by using high temperatures which remove or destroy the essential trace minerals that salt naturally contains. It is then bleached and additives like anti-caking agents and other harmful chemicals are added to make it flow. This type of salt creates a heavy burden for our bodies and can lead to health problems like water retention, high blood pressure, kidney disease and heart disease.
Unrefined salt, on the other hand, has over 80 trace minerals including magnesium, calcium, and potassium, that our bodies require for good health. Some good choices for unrefined salt are celtic sea salt which is traditionally hand-harvested from the coast of Brittany, France or Himalayan salt which is mined from the Himalayas.
TIP: Add a tiny pinch of unrefined salt and a squeeze of lemon to a litre of water. This makes a great electrolyte replacement drink for workouts, hot days, when recovering from an illness, or just any old time.
Vinegar is less controversial than salt but using better quality vinegar can still greatly impact your health. There are many health benefits attributed to vinegar and it has been a staple in many traditional folk remedies for hundreds of years. Some of these benefits are now being scientifically proven and others are simply backed by hundreds of years of use.
Look for raw, unfiltered and naturally fermented vinegars. Other vinegars may be filtered, distilled and denatured through high heat and chemical solvents.
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, made by fermenting apples, is the star when it comes to vinegars. During the fermentation process yeasts and bacteria break the sugar down into alcohol and then into vinegar. Raw, unfiltered vinegar comes with “the mother” – a cloudy residue at the bottom of the bottle which contains active enzymes and prebiotics which can aid in the digestive process.
Apple cider vinegar is commonly used as a digestive aid where it stimulates hydrochloric acid production causing food to be broken down more efficiently in the stomach and resulting in less indigestion, gas and bloating. Recent studies are showing that it can also help stabilize blood sugar levels too. Externally it is used to soothe sunburns, insect bites, bee stings, dandruff, acne and athlete’s foot.
Try this recipe containing unrefined salt and apple cider vinegar – Basic Healing Salad Dressing
by Tamara MacKenzie, Nutritionist InspireHealth Lower Mainland – Vancouver Centre Salad photo by tracy benjamin / CC BY