Salts

Salts - NOT Created Equal!

 

     For anyone who cooks, it’s safe to say that salt is one of the most key ingredients.  To anyone who eats, it’s probably safe to say the same!  There is a salt shaker on most every table, and many people pick it up and “shaka -shaka” before even tasting their food!  It’s an American ritual.

     If we’re going to continue our love for salt, let’s make it HEALTHY SALT!  Many people are unaware that there are even choices in salt, but there are, and understanding that is very important for your health!  Let’s summarize this important information.  It all begins with the most common of salts, “white salt”.  Oh boy, read on.    

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     Table Salt:  Avoid it altogether.  There are much better, healthier, and affordable alternatives.   

     Table salt, or “Refined Salt” is certainly the most commonly used salt, and has been for generations.  “Refined” means that the salt is heavily ground and most all the impurities and trace minerals are removed. The natural salt is superheated to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, destroying the most beneficial compounds.  Fortified with essential iodine, table salt is also BLEACHED and devoid of trace elements.  Now, when the salt is refined, it tends to clump, which is undesirable.  The solution, as usual, is to use additives to off-set the clumping.  These are called, “anti-caking” agents.  Without them, the salt would not flow freely.

     Food grade table salt is almost PURE sodium chloride, at 97% or higher.  Some experts claim that this highly refined version of salt is responsible for many sodium-related health issues, whereas unrefined salts heal the body instead of harming it.  In short, table salt is another chemical in your day.

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     Sea Salt: This is salt from the ocean that undergoes an evaporation process to separate salt from water.  it contains a small amount of natural iodine, although not nearly as much as iodized salt.  Less refined than table salt, it comes in both fine and coarse varieties.  While a great unrefined choice, pollution is becoming a concern.  Ancient seas, once clean, are now polluted with micro-plastics and other pollutants.  While there is no need to give up your seas salts, be aware and keep a balance between sea salt and other, earth-bound salts.

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     Himalayan Pink:  These pink colored salts come from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains!  The pink color originates in the rich iron content.  The salt is rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential trace elements required by your body.  Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions, such as reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health, and promoting healthy pH in your cells.  One of the healthiest salts you can consume, its growing popularity has made it more affordable than other more exotic salts on the market.

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     Grey:  Celtic Sea Salt is colored by the clay from where it’s harvested, which gives it the name “Grey”.  It is hand-raked in Brittany, France, where the natural clay and sand create moist, mineral-rich crystals.  This salt generally retains its moistness.  It can help restore electrolyte balance, has alkalizing properties and can prevent muscle cramps, much the same as pink salt.  Beware that this salt is a bit more expensive, due to the labor intensive process of hand-raking.

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     Fleur de sel:  The “flower of the salt” is pricey and has been hand-harvested along the French coastline in the same pools as the grey salt.  For every 40 kilograms of grey salt produced, only 1 1/2 kilograms of the delicate fleur de sel is harvested.  The light, flaky salt is highly valued and generally used for finishing foods.  It terms of health, its simply a pricey mineral-rich sea salt with a delicate flavor and texture.

Black Hawaiian Salt

     Black:  Black lava salt, originating in Hawaii, is unrefined and volcanic. Its black color is due to its content of activated charcoal, which is great for digestion and removing impurities in the body!  The contrast of color can also make dishes visually appealing. 

     Another black salt, “Kala namak”, which originates from India, is actually pink once it's ground. It is highly sulphuric in taste and content. Because of this, it is thought to be a beneficial digestive aid. Both of these black salts are highly valued and can be healthful when used on occasion.

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     Red:  Red salt, another Hawaiian salt, gets its color from the volcanic Hawaiian clay called alaea. As water evaporates, this salt gets trapped in tidal pools, where it mixes with the alaea. Estimated to contain the highest concentration of essential trace minerals of any salt, this red salt is especially iron rich. If you have a tendency to be low in iron, this salt may be a good addition to your balanced diet.

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     Persian Blue: A unique salt harvested from an ancient salt lake in Iran is extremely mineral rich and slightly sweet. Its blue color comes not from mineral content, but from the natural compression of the salt's structure over the millennia. The same beautiful effect is seen in blue glacial ice, where the molecular structure has been compressed to the point that it begins to refract light differently.  While aesthetically pleasing, as one of the rarest salts in the world, this salt may not be worth the price tag if you're just shopping for health benefits.

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     Smoked:  These sea salts, smoked at low temperatures over a bed of coals, which lends a lovely smokey flavor to the crystals along with a grey or tan color, have no significant nutritional benefits over normal sea salt.

The smokey flavor lends dimension to certain dishes, but they have no health benefits beyond those associated with regular sea salt.

     The most common salt is the least healthy. 

     Get rid of the white table salt that is highly refined, heated to a temperature that destroys the most beneficial compounds, and is basically a bottle of chemicals.  Just because it might be what you’re used to, does not make it healthy for you.  Stop eating it!

     Choose, instead, the Himalaya Pink salt which is delicious and readily available and inexpensive.  It is not accessible in most all grocery stores, definitely in health food stores, and even online at stores like Thrive Market and Amazon!  It comes in course of fine grinds, and looks beautiful in the shaker on the table!  You can use it and feel guilt free!  Sea salt is another viable option that is much healthier than white table salt, is readily available and inexpensive.

     You don't need to spend a fortune to consume healthy salt. Exotic salts can make for an awesome culinary experience, but in terms of health, no single unrefined salt is undeniably better than another. Choose a salt that suits your needs and enjoy it in combination with a smart, healthy lifestyle.

 

Research for this article from: Authority Nutrition by Kris Gunnars  June 2017 / EcoWatch.com  April 2016