THE MOST SENSIBLE SEASONING
Q: Is sea salt a healthier option than regular table salt?
A: Both sea salt and table salt are composed of sodium and chloride. Sodium is crucial to good health. It helps your body maintain a balance of fluids, keeps the nervous system running smoothly and influences muscle movement. But too much can cause high blood pressure. Aim to consume no more than the 2,300-milligram daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association.
All salts add sodium to your diet. A teaspoon of a coarse variety, however, contributes slightly less than the same amount of the finer table salt. But switching to a coarser salt won’t significantly reduce the amount you ingest.
Sea salt is often perceived as healthier because it is minimally processed and may include minerals from the sea. But because these minerals are usually present in scant amounts, the nutritional value is negligible.
Table salt comes from mines and is often mixed with anti-caking agents. But there is no evidence that this processing makes it worse for us. Iodized table salt contains iodine, added to prevent goiter, a thyroid disorder caused by its deficiency. Most people get enough from the iodized salt in processed foods.
To effectively cut sodium in your diet, avoid processed and prepared foods — the source of 75 percent of the sodium we consume. Instead, cook meals with fresh ingredients.
FINDING A PET BREEDER
Q: Where should I start my search for a pet breeder? What qualities should I seek?
A: Begin with a local veterinarian, who will likely know reputable breeders in the area. You also can go to shelters for referrals, or to cat or dog shows to meet breeders. In the United States, websites for national pet organizations are another source. For dogs, contact the American Kennel Club (www.akc.org); for cats, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (www.cfainc.org).
Once you find some breeders, ask for references. Breeders should be knowledgeable about the animals they raise, including typical diseases and behavioral traits. If the references are positive, take the next step and visit a breeder’s home to see the litter and the environment in which the animals are raised. Look for a clean, well-maintained place. The animals should have plenty of human contact, so they’ll be well socialized. See how the mother interacts with her babies; if she’s fearful, her offspring will be also. Use common sense: If your instincts tell you something’s wrong, walk away.
The best breeders will want to know about you, too, so expect lots of questions. Until you take ownership, it’s the breeder’s responsibility to keep the animal’s vaccinations up to date. Ask to see records of veterinary visits for proof.
Always sign a contract that spells out your rights and responsibilities, as well as the breeder’s. If something goes wrong early on, the breeder may be open to taking the animal back or helping you find it a more suitable home.
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