Here's How You Should Be Using Salt, According To Ayurveda

Can you imagine a world without salt? It’s such a fundamental part of any recipe that we have pretty much taken it for granted. But it’s not just the building block of flavour, this humble seasoning has more of an impact on our lives than we ever give it credit for. In Ayurveda, salt is often used medicinally such as in hingvastak to promote digestion or clear a congested system. Even in the west, it’s widely accepted that the levels of salt in your diet can have great consequences on your overall health. In a holistic sense, salt isn’t a problem, it’s the way it’s used – or misused – that dictates its effects on the body. 

It’s also important to factor in what type of salt you’re using. What ancient cultures used straight from the sea is very different from the processed salt we know today. The industrialisation of the element has led to a lot of changes in its basic chemical makeup and that needs to be factored in when treating it as a medicinal component.

Table Salt

It’s probably the type of salt we’re all the most familiar with and what we have in our kitchen cupboards. It contains much more sodium than natural salts as it is 99.85% sodium chloride. Table salt also contains additives like anti-caking agents, aluminium, fluoride and iodine plus stabilisers to aid these additions. These chemical additions according to Ayurveda create ama, or toxins when consumed and with its high sodium content, it is the most heating of all the types of salt.

Sea Salt

There are two versions of sea salt out there. The first is made by simply drying sea water in the sun and collecting the crystals left behind. And the second method is the desalination process by which salt is removed from seawater for industrial use. The second is a very chemical-heavy process and creates a salt that isn’t pure like that obtained by simply drying seawater. The sun-dried version contains natural minerals which add to the health benefits.

Mineral Salts

Also known as rock salt these are harvested from ancient sea beds that have dried up. One of the most famous mountain-sourced salts is the Himalayan Pink Salt which is washed and dried in a natural process. Mineral salts as the name suggests, contain trace minerals which provide the body with necessary nutrition. It can also aid in the practice of neti, as it clears excess mucus and supports respiratory health.

In Ayurveda, salt is used medicinally, especially for imbalanced vata doshas. The elements fire and water are combined in salt, which regulates moisture levels, promotes nutrient absorption from food, regulates blood pressure, and is essential for brain and nervous system function. 

However, higher amounts result in kapha imbalance lead to issues like edema and kidney malfunction. Ayurvedic also logic suggests using salt only during the cooking process rather than salting food after it’s cooked which can be harsh on the tongue and the body. As long as you are respecting and using salt in moderation, it is sure to be a boon to your health.