In my last post, “Is Salt Making You Sick?“, we discussed the hypothesis that salt causes hypertension and talked about how much salt is healthy to consume each day. Today, I will talk about what KIND of salt is the healthiest salt.
Salt of the Earth
All salt originally comes from the earth. What is done to it after it is extracted is what makes the difference between healthy salt and unhealthy salt.
You’ve probably noticed that many food manufacturers have switched to sea salt in their foods. Thus, making you think that their products are more healthful.
What’s the big deal between sea salt and table salt?
Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water or water from saltwater lakes, usually with little processing.
Depending on the water source, this leaves behind certain trace minerals and elements. The minerals add flavor and color to sea salt, which also comes in a variety of coarseness levels.
Sea salt contains many minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, etc.) that are essential for a variety of functions in the body. These minerals and electrolytes are important players in the production of enzymes as well as immune system, adrenal, and thyroid function.
One thing sea salt doesn’t have is added iodine. Table salt has been fortified with iodine since the early 20th century as a way to get more of the essential mineral into Americans’ diets. Iodine was found to reduce goiter, hypothyroidism, mental retardation, and cretinism.
These days, Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian at NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center said most Americans get plenty of iodine in their diets — so you shouldn’t worry about using sea salt instead if you like its texture and crunch.
Apparently, I’m not one of those. A recent test at my doctor’s office showed I was deficient in iodine, so I am adding iodine to my diet daily.
Table salt, on the other hand, is typically mined from underground salt deposits. Table salt is more heavily processed thereby eliminating healthy minerals.
Table salt is the what you find on restaurant tables and on processed food. It is an industrial product made in factories and heated to over 1000 degrees. Often, aluminum hydroxide (an anti-caking agent) and other chemicals are added.
In addition, table salt is bleached to give it that white uniform color. Yummy.
Don’t count on the salt in processed foods to provide you with iodine. Food producers do not add iodine to their products. Table salt is the only product where iodine may be added and it will be clearly labeled.
What is the Best Choice?
Whether it’s mined from the earth or evaporated from the sea, unrefined salt is always the best option in terms of both flavor and health. However, since food packages nowadays tend to make everything look like a health food, read through the ingredients.
The best unrefined salt should have no added ingredients. We need to be careful when buying just any old sea salt–it can be processed just like table salt. Be sure to read the label to see what additives are included. Just because the label says the product includes sea salt, that doesn’t counteract all the other ingredients in those products that may not be so wholesome.
It’s not a choice between table salt and sea salt. We need to choose unrefined salt.
“Unrefined salt is generally not the pure white color that most of us are used to; it tends to be off-white or pink,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, nutritionist at Elements Behavioral Health and author of The Hunger Fix, who recommends rose-colored Himalayan rock salt and grey Atlantic or Celtic salt. Both have picked up a good chunk of nutrients from the water as well as the clay pans in which they crystalize. These sea salts are available at natural food stores.
When a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously.
Here’s your simple change for the day: Switch to an unrefined salt such as Himalayan or Celtic sea salt (but always read the label).
As a Wellness Advocate, I receive a small commission if you purchase a product, which does not affect your cost. My goal is to provide support on your journey to wellness.