Salt is an important ingredient of almost everything that we eat. Ayurveda understood it’s importance way back and has explained various types of salt along with its qualities.
But before that, let’s understand the salt we are eating today
The free-flowing, super white sodium chloride fortified with iodine that we consume today is a chemically synthesized product( in some cases is a byproduct that is sold as edible salt).
We have come to believe that salt means sodium chloride (NaCl) and anything mixed with it is an “impurity”. Other minerals naturally available in common salt are labeled as impurities. These so-called impurities are what makes the natural salt healthier. Because of the presence of other vital minerals the sodium content of the naturally available salt is automatically low.
Naturally occurring salt is hygroscopic – meaning it will get soggy with moisture which is perfectly normal, it’s the inherent property of naturally occurring salt. However to make the salt “free-flowing”, anticaking agents eg. Potassium ferrocyanide is added to it.
Bleaching agents are added to make the salt look whiter.
This chemically synthesized salt looks and feels pretty no doubt, but as the saying goes… “Handsome is what Handsome does”… The addition of these chemicals only improves the outer appearance of the salt and is no way beneficial to health.
Ayurveda advocates all things natural. The salt we take should also be natural. What are the natural options available?
1. Saindhav Salt
This salt is available in the Sindhu river belt in northern India and Pakistan and hence the name. It is considered to be the best of all naturally occurring salts. Ayurveda advises this to be the salt of choice for all. Saindhav salt is composed of not only sodium chloride ( NaCl), but it has 84 other minerals including iodine, potassium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium. Daily consumption of this would provide the body with a wealth of elements, thus freeing us from taking a number of supplements daily.
Health qualities of saindhav salt are as follows
1. It increases appetite.
2. It acts as an aphrodisiac.
3. It’s beneficial to those suffering with weak eyes or with eye ailments
4. It balances the three doshas – Vaata, Pitta and Kapha.
5. It has a sweet vipaaka and thus has the benefits of nourishing the body tissues etc that madhura rasa imparts.
This salt being expensive the next salt that is advised by Ayurveda is the Sambhar salt.
2. Sambhar Salt
Again the name is from the place of origin – it originates in the sambhar lake in Rajasthan. The chemical composition of sambhar salt is almost similar to saindhav. It is different from saindhav salt in its Ayurvedic medicinal properties, it’s veerya / potency and prabhaava / effect. It is also called as Romaka salt.
Health benefits of sambhar salt are as follows
1. It is very warm in potency thus is beneficial for Kapha and Vaata disorders.
2. It acts like catalysts and increases the efficacy of any drug given with it.
3. It is light on the metabolism.
4. It is addictive hence, should be used with caution.
5. It treats constipation.
6. It’s a diuretic.
3. Sauvarchal Salt – this is also called as black salt
Health benefits of Sauvarchal salt are as follows
1. It is light on metabolism.
2. It is pleasant to eat due to its strong aroma.
3. It relieves burps and abdominal distention.
4. It increases appetite and stimulates digestion.
4. Samudra lavan or natural sea salt.
Health benefits are as follows
1. It is sweet in potency and thus nourishing to the tissues.
2. It is a mild laxative and helps in relieving constipation.
3. It’s not very warming and is beneficial in the suppression of Vaata and Kapha without aggravating Pitta.
4. It reduces aches and pains and is an effective local pain suppressor.
There are other varieties of salt too like black salt, vid lavana, etc. all being natural, though medicinally having lesser qualities as compared to saindhav salt.
Common health benefits of all-natural salts are as follows of
1. They help in stimulating metabolism.
2. Improve digestion
3. Reduce the bloating and distension of abdomen
4. Reduce abdominal pain, cramps, and obstructions.
5. They all act as natural pain relievers.