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Salt for a healthier life

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1999-09-18

The sun filtered through the plastic lining above, and we breathed in the hot oven air as we talked. It was over 120 F inside the blistering greenhouse, where Masakatsu Takayasu was explaining his latest invention to me, a machine so innovative, it could revolutionize the way we eat.

All around us was nothing but white - the end result of Takayasu's brainchild, which earned him an international patent. It felt like being in a desert, only with snow instead of sand. But, we weren't looking at snow; we were surrounded by salt.

Most of the salt consumed by the average person is obtained from salt mines found deep in the earth, where it was deposited by receding seas during the earth's formation. The salt, which eventually makes its way to our kitchen tables, contains no minerals because natural precipitation over many millenniums has completely washed them away.

Through research over the years about the affects of food additives on our health, we have come to connect salt with many health problems, but recently scientists have recognized that salt derived from the sea is much better for our bodies and also may actually carry some health benefits. This discovery has lead to a large increase in the production of sea salt both here in Japan and abroad.

Takayasu, who has several other patents on other inventions, said he jumped at the chance to produce a more healthier salt when the Japanese government passed a law in 1997, opening the production of salt to the private sector. "I knew in my head already exactly how I was going to do it," recalled Takayasu.

Back inside the cool air-conditioned room of Takayasu's simple office, he explained the reasons why his "Life Salt" is able to retain even more minerals than the current sea salts on the market. "Sea salt has a high content of minerals, but the method to obtain the salt is to boil it until the water evaporates - the boiling melts most of the minerals, which then escape into small traces of water left behind," he said. Takayasu added that the remaining liquid containing some of these minerals is sometimes sold separately, but is very expensive.

Takayasu's salt, however, is not boiled. His machine blows out sea water into a large greenhouse in the form of a fine mist. As the water evaporates, the salt begins to cling to nets which are hung from the ceiling. "Because the water evaporates naturally, the remaining salt still holds all of the minerals left behind," he said.

Later, the salt is baked at a high temperature inside of a special oven to rid it of any bitterness. "Oxygen chemically mixes with the magnesium, which is what makes the salt less bitter," explained Takayasu.

Looking at a chart from a lab test performed by the Japan Food Analyzing Center, the difference between Takayasu's salt and other salts is overwhelming. The results show that Takayasu's "Life Salt" contains 1.15 grams of calcium, 2.60 grams of magnesium, and .96 milligrams of iron; compared to 68 milligrams of calcium, 200 milligrams of magnesium, and 0 traces of iron found in another leading brand of sea salt. "Life Salt" also has approximately 10 other important minerals, nine of which can not even be found in the other brand. Table salt does not even compare, since it contains no minerals at all. Takayasu also claimed that his salt has shown to have some benefits for certain skin allergies and other ailments.

As of now, Takayasu's company operates at a small production level, but his patented "salt maker" has caught the attention of many international investors. He has plans to mass produce his salt both here in Okinawa and eventually in the United States.

"Until now, we have always thought of salt as something that is bad, but I want everyone to realize that there is a healthier alternative. This salt can be good for you," commented Takayasu. Those interested in obtaining Takayasu's "Life Salt" can order it directly by calling or faxing 972-5710.

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