Most of the discussions surrounding salt are negative. We often hear about lowering our intake levels, but then aren’t we missing the deeper question: “what salt should we be eating?” In fact, there are quite a few professionals who argue for the health benefits of the right kind of salt.
In attempting to eat a real food diet, it makes sense to find the healthiest form of this everyday ingredient.
So what is a healthy salt?
All salt comes from either the sea or underground mines. All salts are predominantly made up of sodium chloride, but their are vast differences between refined and unrefined salts.
Basically what separates refined salt from unrefined salt is what is added and what is taken away.
Finding The Best Salt
When you look for salt in the grocery store you will find an overwhelming number of options. The following is a guide map.
IODIZED TABLE SALT
This is the most common form of salt consumed today. It is granular, stark white, and lives in most salt shakers across the country. Table salt contains iodine and additives like sodium silicoaluminate or magnesium carbonate to improve pour-ability. These additives are not required to be listed as ingredients on the label.
It is like the white bread of salts – chemically stripped of all things valuable and then “enhanced” by synthetic vitamins and minerals. It’s just not a whole food.
Kosher salt is not “kosher” itself, but is used to make meats kosher and is commonly called “koshering” salt. It is a larger crystal than the granular table salt and does not contain as many additives as table salt.
It does, however, contain sodium ferrocyanide which…
“is not especially toxic because the cyanides are tightly bound to the metal, although it can react with acid or photodecompose to release hydrogen cyanide gas.”
A little scary, and again not a whole food.
Most sea salts sold in supermarkets are white, large-grained, and still somewhat refined. It is hard to tell the difference between a refined sea salt and an unrefined one without doing a little research first. But most of us aren’t going to Google from aisle four of the grocery store.
A few things to look for:
Color. While refined sea salts are white, almost all unrefined sea salts have a color to them. They are beige, pink, gray, red, or even black. The colors come from the mineral content the salt receives from where it has been harvested.
Moisture. Some unrefined sea salts are packaged with some of their moisture still intact. This keeps all of the trace minerals – over 80 in some cases – intact.
Mineral Content. Look at the packaging and see what the salt’s composition is. It should not be entirely sodium chloride. You want to find numerous trace minerals – the larger the quantity, the better.
There are different brands of unrefined sea salt out there, all at different prices. I have seen Celtic Sea Salt come Dr. recommended, as well as a few other brands like Pink Himalayan and Redmond’s Real Salt. Buying them from the grocery store in small quantities can be expensive, so look for sales and buy in bulk. Think of it as an investment.
The trace minerals found in unrefined salt work synergistically with the sodium chloride to form a nourishing, whole food. As with all foods, it is best found in it’s God-given state, unchanged by man.
Iodine- Natural salts are rich in iodine, so it doesn’t need to be artificially added in.
Some salts the girl who would be king really likes:
Grey Sea Salt/Sel Gris From Guerande, Brittany France (found at Whole Foods)
- unprocessed, unrefined, unadulterated.
- Complex balance of the sea and her minerals
- Handharvested In Brittany France
- Large grey crystals and a moist texture.
- Great for seasoning meats
Pink Himalayan – comes from high up in the Himalayan mountain range but is now hand-mined from the mountains and brought to the culinary market.
Pink Salt vs. Sea Salt: even though pink salts come from the mountains, they are technically sea salts as well. All salt comes from a salted body of water—namely, an ocean or salt-water lake. However, Himalayan salt is said to be the purest form of sea salt.
The crystal structure in pink himalayan is larger than refined salt, and by volume – this salt therefore has LESS sodium per 1/4 t. serving- because the sea salt crystals or flakes take up less room on a teaspoon than highly refined tiny table salt grains. Packs a hearty 80+ minerals and elements – Himalayan salts are mineral packed crystals which formed naturally within the earth made up of 85.62% sodium chloride and 14.38% other trace minerals including: sulphate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, bromide, borate, strontium, and fluoride (in descending order of quantity).
Because of these minerals *Himalayan pink salt can:
- Create an electrolyte balance
- Increases hydration
- Regulate water content both inside and outside of cells
- Balance pH (alkaline/acidity) and help to reduce acid reflux
- Prevent muscle cramping
- Aid in proper metabolism functioning
- Strengthen bones
- Lower blood pressure
- Help the intestines absorb nutrients
- Prevent goiters
- Improve circulation
- Dissolve and eliminate sediment to remove toxins
It is even said to support libido, reduce the signs of aging, and detoxify the body from heavy metals. *These are pretty hefty claims but if you’re going to eat salt anyway why not use this one plus it’s readily available everywhere, even in bulk.
What type of salt do you use and why?
Source: simple bites and fitlife.tv (for Himalayan Salt)
photos: by Shannon