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Store-cupboard superfoods (part 2)
So hopefully with all the talk about the health benefits of eggs and butter, you managed to incorporate some of these into your Easter recipes.
This week I want to rescue the reputation of another maligned staple food (a seasoning, in fact) plus introduce you to another condiment that has many culinary and medicinal uses.
For a few decades now, people have been urged to cut their salt intake.
Eat too much salt we are warned, and your blood pressure will skyrocket.
Yet salt brings flavour to food, and has a long history of making food safe to eat before the advent of modern refrigeration.
In actual fact, although a small percentage of people with kidney disease may have trouble clearing salt, the majority of us excrete it through urine in a matter of hours.
It’s true that refined salt is likely to be harmful in large amounts, primarily because it only comprises sodium, and displaces other minerals in the body when eliminated through the kidneys.
This is why I do not recommend table salt.
What you should be using in food is unrefined celtic sea salt, which is moist and grey in colour.
This contains the full spectrum of minerals including potassium, magnesium and others.
The chloride in this kind of salt is actually crucial to a number of processes: it helps hydrate cells by ‘pulling’ water across the cell membrane; it is required by the adrenal glands, especially during stress.
It also stimulates the digestive secretions during eating, particularly helping us digest protein, which can be a challenge for older people when levels of stomach acid start to decline.
As sodium and potassium tend to work together, it is important to ensure that you are receiving enough potassium from fruit and vegetable sources; if high blood pressure is a problem, this strategy is more successful at reducing it than merely cutting salt out of the diet.
In actual fact, what does create high blood pressure is insulin, which is secreted in response to carbohydrate and sugar intake; this is because it triggers fight or flight stress hormones and readies the muscles for exercise to burn off all that excess glucose (this is why sugar can make us feel jittery, anxious, even aggressive).
The second recommendation is apple cider vinegar, which should be purchased in its raw and unpasteurised state.
It may have a cloudy sediment, called ‘the Mother’, which denotes live enzymes. These are supposed to enhance digestion and cleanse the liver - and a teaspoon mixed into warm water can settle nausea from an upset stomach or food poisoning.
It can also be used to soak dried beans, legumes and grains overnight (2 tablespoons in hot water), which helps neutralise some of their toxins.
Aren’t grains and beans supposed to be good for us? Well, yes, in part…but most of the grains and legumes we eat are not prepared properly, and contain compounds that can irritate the delicate intestinal lining.
You’ll have to wait next week to find out the full story….
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