Posts Tagged ‘salt’

How Processed Foods Wreak Havoc on Your Health

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It’s safe to say that most American consumers probably can’t recall the last time they ate a meal prepared entirely from wholesome, garden-to-table ingredients, without any canned or prepackaged products. That’s because most Americans today consume mostly processed foods—foods produced with pesticides, GMOs and synthetic chemicals, routinely laced with too much sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.

In fact, processed foods make up as much as 70 percent of people’s diets– meaning only 30 percent of what they consume consists of wholesome, natural, or organic foods!

But here’s the truth about processed foods: Long-term consumption of these “food products” spell bad news for your health.

Processed vs. ultra-processed: What’s the difference?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines “processed food” as any raw agricultural commodity that has been subjected to processing methods, including canning, cooking, dehydration, freezing or milling. This means that the only time a food can be classified as “fresh” is when you’ve taken it straight from the source (washing it is okay, and would not be classified as a form of processing) and eaten it. By this definition, most foods would be considered processed.

However, in layman’s terms, processed foods can refer to sodas, potato chips, candy, baked pastries with extended shelf life–basically, “convenient,” easy-to-eat products that have been altered through the addition of artificial or ingredients, synthetic flavorings, fillers and chemical or genetically engineered additives. But this type of description actually refers to “ultra-processed food.” Researchers from the University of São Paulo and Tufts University define “ultra-processed” as:

Formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensory qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.

But most people use the term “processed food” and “ultra-processed food” interchangeably when talking about these consumer products. Conventional processed foods today come in a variety of forms. These include:

• Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables
• Canned meats (luncheon meat and sausage, corned beef, and meatloaf)
• Breakfast foods, including cereals, oatmeal, energy bars
• Canned, bottled, or tetra-packed fruit juices, energy drinks, and soda
• Jarred baby foods and infant cereals
• Foods “fortified” with nutrients
• Ready to eat meals, microwave dinners
• Ramen noodles
• Pastries, including cookies, breads, frozen pizza, and pies
• Condiments, seasonings and marinades, salad dressing, and jams
• Yogurt and other commercially made fermented foods

The simplest way to determine if a food is processed is by looking at the ingredient list at the back of its packaging. The longer the ingredient list, the more processed a food is likely to be.

After more than 20 years of struggle by consumer activists and public interest groups such as the Organic Consumers Association, major food manufacturers are finally being forced to label GMO ingredients in processed foods sold in grocery stores. Because of this, many of them are starting to remove GMOs from their products, along with other artificial chemicals and additives.

The history of ‘processing’

Humans have been “processing” food through traditional methods for thousands of years. Egyptians have used salt for 4,000 years to extend the shelf life of food. In ancient sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic, there was evidence that early humans pounded cattails and ferns into flour and mixed it with water to bake bread.

Other methods of food preservation, including fermentation, pickling and curing, have also been used for thousands of years, in different cultures. The food was used to help survive long winters and voyages, and also as rations when soldiers went to war. This led to the production of foods like beer, wine, cheeses, yogurt and butter.

The 19th century saw the rise of modern food processing methods. Canning and bottling began mainly to serve military needs, although the initial cans used were hazardous, as they were contaminated with lead.

Pasteurization, a method that prolongs the shelf life of dairy and wine to allow increased production and distribution, was discovered and patented by Louis Pasteur in the mid-1800s.

In the 20th century, the rising consumer society in the U.S. contributed to the growth of food processing. Advances such as freeze drying, spray drying and juice concentrates were developed. At the same time, coloring agents, preservatives and artificial sweeteners were introduced. Self-cooking meals, “TV dinners,” reconstituted fruits and juices and other “instant” foods like coffee and noodles became popular. These were mostly marketed to working wives and mothers who were tired of preparing foods from scratch.

To convince people that processed foods were as good, or even better, than wholesome foods, they were marketed as a means for people to save time and money–hence the term “convenience foods.”

But do the time and money you save by choosing these processed goods make up for the havoc that they wreak with your health?

Not what the human body needs, or wants

The human body is not designed to thrive on processed foods. And foods are not meant to be altered. The more altered they are, the worse they are for your health.

Processed foods are actually lacking in nutritional content compared to natural foods. For example, processed bread and other snacks use refined grains that have the bran and germ removed and, along with it, important nutrients like fiber, iron and B-vitamins.

Dried processed foods not only have reduced amounts of vitamin C and fiber, but they also become more energy dense, which causes them to contribute to weight gain. When these foods are constituted and cooked with water, even more nutrients leach out.

Processed foods are also loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium, all of which your body is not designed to handle in high amounts, and all of which can endanger health. Particularly damaging are refined sugars, like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which convert into fat in your body. This wreaks havoc on your insulin and leptin levels, and leads to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and cancer. Meanwhile, synthetic trans fats, in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, have been linked to heart disease.

And of course processed foods are routinely laced with hazardous genetically engineered and pesticide-drenched ingredients derived from GMO corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets and cotton (cottonseed oil is common in low-grade vegetable oils). According to the Grocery Manufacturers of America, 80 percent of all (non-organic) supermarket processed foods contain GMOs. Only now are those ingredients being labeled, as food manufacturers are being forced to comply with Vermont’s GMO labeling law.

Loaded with health-harming synthetic additives

Close to 5,000 additives are now allowed to be used in food products. And this number keeps growing. If you factor in the additives found in the packaging (which can also leach into your food), that number of additives can rise to 10,000!

What’s worse, most of these food additives have not undergone any safety testing, and very few have been tested according to the way that they are ingested–meaning in combination with other additives. Some of these additives are downright dangerous. For example:

Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione (PD), both of which are added to microwave popcorn to give it a buttery aroma, are linked to brain health, Alzheimer’s disease and respiratory toxicity.

• Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is found in chips, processed meats and a wide array of other foods, is an excitotoxin that can lead to cell damage, triggering brain dysfunction and leading to learning disabilities, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

• Artificial food dyes like Red #40, Yellow 5, and Blue #2 are linked to brain tumors, hyperactivity, hypersensitivity and other behavioral effects in children.

• Preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT) can mess with your brain’s neurological system, causing behavioral problems and even cancer. Another preservative, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), is also deadly. In fact, just five grams can kill you, according to the FDA.

Giving up processed foods—easier said than done

If you think you can simply shake off your processed food cravings, you’re wrong. These foods are intentionally addictive. They stimulate dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter that affects your brain similarly to how drugs affect you. Manufacturers are fully aware of this, and actually engineer their products to produce this “delicious” yet dangerous effect. (Michael Moss details this in his book, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.”)

Sadly, many people still consume GMO and pesticide-tainted, highly processed foods because of their affordability, convenience and “delicious” flavor. But what you save in terms of money and convenience will ultimately put a double whammy on your health.

source: Elaine Catherine R. Ferrer via Organic Consumers Association

Imagine eating something old. Really old. Like, more than 800 million years old.

Imagine eating something old. Really old. Like, more than 800 million years old.

Sound impossible?

Maybe unappetizing?

Next time you sprinkle a pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt on your dinner, you’ll actually be seasoning your food with a truly ancient spice.

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

These beautiful pink salt crystals are mined from the great Salt Range of the Himalayas, an area that geologists estimate could be 800 million years old. You could be eating a salt crystal that was actually formed in the Precambrian era — around the same time the first multi-celled life began (we’re talking little tiny organisms that were the first sign of life on this planet).

In all senses of the word, this salt is a truly old spice.

It’s a pretty interesting blast from the very distant past, and a unique experience to eat something so pure and untouched for millions of years.

The Source

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The Khewra Salt Mine is located just north of Pind Dadan Khan, a district of Punjab in Pakistan. It’s the world’s oldest salt mine (and still the second largest). It is world famous, annually attracting 250,000 tourists, who come to see the unearthing of huge bricks of this unique pink salt.

Geologists believe that the Great Salt Range was formed when tectonic plate movements formed a mountain range that trapped a shallow inland sea, which was slowly dehydrated and buried deep in the earth, forming thick, mineral-rich sea salt deposits.

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For millions of years the Salt Range went untouched as animal and human species developed all around it. The rock salt wasn’t discovered until around 300 BCE, when local peoples encountered the salty outcroppings in the hills called salt seams. In 326 BCE, Alexander of Macedonia and his men on horseback discovered the salt while camping in the region before battle. The men were tipped off by their horses, who licked the salty rock deposits. This discovery lead to the revelation of the great Salt Range to the Greeks. For many years following, local tribes mined the surface outcroppings and traded the salt with neighboring regions.

In 1849, when the British arrived in the region, the use of the salt mine changed dramatically.

A British mining engineer named Dr. Warth helped design and build a tunnel into the salt range, allowing better access to the salt deposits. His “pillar and chamber” mining method — still in use today — called for the excavation of 50% of the salt, while the remaining 50% was left as structural support for the mine.

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Now the mine tunnels about 730 meters into the mountain, and the underground mine covers about 43 square miles! It is estimated that the total amount of salt still remaining in the region is somewhere between 80-600 million tons.

Unlike many other mining operations, the Khewra Salt Mine represents something deeply sacred – a connection to worlds long past.

Rather than mass exploitation of the prized commodity it produces, it garners great respect from those that both visit and work the mine. Its sacred healing power is left untouched as the crystalline pink salt from the mine reaches the hands of consumers unprocessed and unrefined. Salt rocks from the mine are also carved into sculptures and used to create healing rock salt lamps.

Sea Salt vs Himalayan Pink Salt.  Why does this matter to you?

At this point you might be thinking, ‘great, but it’s just salt and salt is bad for my health…’ right?

The story behind pure Pink Himalayan Sea Salt matters because the source and purity of this unique salt are the reason why its flavor is rich and more complex, and its effects on the body more positively nourishing.

Here’s why:

MINERAL RICH

Table salt, or straight sodium chloride, is the most commonly consumed salt.

It is mostly mass-produced and undergoes several processes that strip the salt crystals of natural minerals, while adding “supplements” like iodine. Typical table salts also have chemicals added to prevent clumping.

The Pink Himalayan Sea Salt we source from the Khewra Salt Mine, on the other hand, is rich with minerals that have been undisturbed in the salt deposit for millions of years — and we keep it that way. Not only does this salt contain a multitude of minerals like essential electrolytes that are necessary for the healthy function of the human body, is also un-tampered-with.

We bring the salt straight from the Himalayan mountains to you – no processing required – so all the natural minerals are left in tact and no “de-clumping” toxins are added!

TOXIN-FREE

Because this salt comes from such an ancient salt deposit, it’s been unexposed to toxic pollution from the air and water and is therefore some of the purest salt on earth.

Many other sea salts, on the other hand, are mined from salt beds by our oceans, which are unfortunately highly polluted. This results in the risk of toxic contamination that is hard to avoid when mining salt from exposed areas.

Knowing that this salt comes from a source that pre-dates man-made pollution though, we can be sure we’re providing you with clean, toxin-free food.

A Journey Back in Time

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It’s a trip to think about this salt as more than just a flavoring for your next meal. It’s also a prehistoric artifact that pre-dates human existence, a substance more pure and archaic than anything else our bodies ingest, a sacred substance of the earth. With each bite, the history of our natural world nourishes with unadulterated majesty.

 

Written by one of our suppliers:  Essential Living Foods.   Who we thank for all their great products over the past 10 years.