Over the years, the debate on whether we should use salt or not has raged on. In recent times, different types of salt have become extremely popular. It is no longer easy to decide between using simple iodized table salt or to choose amongst the other range of salts available. Salt is an important part of every meal. Without the addition of salt, our meals would taste bland and lack flavor. What is important to understand is that not all salt is the same. There are now many types of salt you can choose from. All these varieties not only taste different but differ even in their texture. There is also a difference in their sodium and mineral content. Today we look at these different types of salt and how they affect your health.
Types of Salt & How They Affect Your Health
Iodized Table Salt
The most commonly found form of salt is iodized table salt. This can be found in most kitchens across the world. The manner in which iodized table salt helps your health is that the iodine present helps in preventing goiters, which occurs due to a deficiency of iodine in the body. However, the drawback is that like most other salt types, iodized table salt is also high in sodium content. Consuming high levels of sodium is going to increase your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Furthermore, table salt is also not considered to be the healthiest type of salt as it is bleached and devoid of trace elements. Many doctors claim that iodized table salt, which is a highly refined version of salt, causes many sodium-related health conditions. Unrefined salt, on the other hand, is known to heal the body rather than harming it.
In recent years, sea salt has grown in popularity. This particular type of salt comes from the oceans and then it undergoes an evaporation process which separates the salt from the water. Sea salt contains small amounts of naturally-occurring iodine, though the levels are not as high as iodized salt. Sea salt is also a lesser refined version of salt as compared to table salt. It is available in both coarse and fine varieties to allow users to choose as per their liking. Sea salt is considered to be an excellent choice of unrefined salt. However, growing pollution in the oceans has become a concern for many when it comes to using sea salt. Therefore, experts suggest that it is good to be aware of the presence of pollutants in sea salt and therefore balance its consumption by combining it with other earth-bound salts. Many people tend to prefer using sea salt as it is less ground than the regular table salt, thereby adding a more potent flavor to the food as compared to refined salt. The taste of sea salt also gets impacted by the trace minerals found in the sea as well.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Harvest primarily in Pakistan, Himalayan salt has been growing in popularity day by day. This type of salt is generally pink in color as it contains trace amounts of iron oxide. It also contains small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, thus making it extremely beneficial for your health. Himalayan pink salt also has a lower content of sodium as compared to regular iodized table salt. Some experts also claim that Himalayan pink salt actually contains all 84 essential trace elements that are required by the human body. Pink salt is known to have many health benefits such as promoting healthy blood sugar levels in the body, reducing muscle cramps, and boosting the pH of your cells to a healthy level. Out of all the salt types, Himalayan pink salt is likely one of the healthiest salts around. While many people tend to prefer the flavor of Himalayan salt, there are many who claim that there is no noticeable difference in taste in this salt versus any regular salt. The main difference seems to lie in the color of the salt, which adds a dash of color to the meal that’s being cooked if sprinkled from above.
Extremely popular in the Jewish religion, kosher salt gets its name due to its popularity amongst Jews. As per Jewish law, any meat that is consumed should have the blood extracted or taken out before it is eaten. Kosher salt is known for its large flake size and it has a coarse and flaky structure. It is said that kosher salt is efficient at extracting the blood from the meat. Many chefs find kosher salt to be easier to use as due to its large size one can pick it up easily and sprinkle over the food. Due to its texture, this salt is known to have a completely different flavor. However, once this salt gets dissolved in the food, then the taste becomes similar to that of iodized table salt itself. In many ways, kosher salt is similar to iodized table salt because both of them originate from either evaporated seawater or from underground mine deposits. There is a lesser chance of kosher salt containing any additives such as iodine and anti-caking agents.
Grey Salt or Celtic Sea Salt
Popular in France, grey salt or Celtic Sea Salt is harvested in Britain, France. It is called grey salt as it gets its color from the clay from which it is harvested. Grey salt is found in natural clay and sand. This combination makes the salt moist and rich in minerals. Even after harvesting, grey salt tends to retain its moisture levels. This type of salt is considered to be highly beneficial in restoring the body’s electrolyte balance. It also has alkalizing properties and is known to prevent muscle cramps. However, due to the intensive process involved in harvesting grey salt and the amount of hand raking that is done to retrieve it, the salt is quite expensive as compared to other types of salts.
Flower of the Salt
Fleur de sel or flower of the salt is generally used as a finishing salt. It is one of the most expensive salts available in the world and is harvested along the coastline of France. Grey salt and this type of salt are often hand harvested together in the same pools. One reason this salt is so expensive is due to the fact that out of every 40 kilos of grey salt that will be produced, only 1 to 2 kilos of this delicate flower of the salt is harvested. It is light and flaky in texture and highly prized amongst chefs. It is not really known for health benefits and is simply considered to be a high-priced mineral-rich sea salt that has an extremely delicate flavor.
Black Lava Salt
Black lava salt gets its black color from the high amount of activated charcoal it has. Harvested in Hawaii, black lava salt is volcanic and unrefined. It is considered to be very beneficial in removing toxins from the body and for digestion as well. The addition of this black salt to dishes adds a contrast of color to the dishes. Another type of black salt, known as kala namak, originates in India but is actually pink in color. This black salt is known to be rich in sulfur content and even tastes sulphuric. Both types of black salts are highly valued and both are considered to be great for digestion.
Also originating in Hawaii, red salt is harvested when the salt becomes trapped in tidal pools and mixes with a type of Hawaiian clay called alaea. Once the water evaporates, the salt is left trapped in the tidal pools. Red salt is known for having the highest concentration of all the essential trace minerals, particularly iron. If you suffer from low iron levels, then adding red salt to your diet is a good idea of naturally increasing your iron levels.
This type of salt is usually used for fermenting or pickling. It is similar in nutritional value as regular table salt, but it does not contain any iodine.
Now, this is one salt that one has to be careful about using. No government around the world has actually certified any salt to be organic. However, there are many independent organizations that are classifying some salts as being organic based on the conditions they are harvested in. Factors that are considered before declaring the salt to be organic include:
- Water purity
- Cleanliness of the salt bed
- Handling of the salt through the many procedures
Keep in mind that no amount of organic classification is going to have an effect on the nutritional value of salt and many brands are not iodized. There are some that are iodized, but you will be to check the label to find out the exact specifications.
Persian Blue Salt
Harvested from a salt lake in Iran, Persian blue salt is known to be rich in mineral content and tastes slightly sweet. The blue color of the salt comes from the natural compression of the salt’s structure. It is known to be one of the rarest salts in the world and again comes with a high price tag.
There is no more or no less nutritional value of smoked salt as compared to any normal sea salt. Smoked salts are simply regular sea salts that have been smoked over a bed of coals at low temperatures. This imparts a smokey flavor to the salt crystals, along with a tan or grey color. The flavor is appreciated in many dishes, but the salt as such as no extra health benefit other than what is generally associated with sea salt.
This is a type of salt that is manufactured with 50% of potassium chloride and 50% of sodium chloride. Some people prefer this type of salt as it has lower sodium content as compared to your regular table salt. You should check the label of the salt to determine whether it is iodized or not.
There are many different types of salts available around the world. However, all generally have some level of sodium in them. If you are scared about the sodium level in your salt, then switching to a salt substitute or cutting down on added salt is a good idea. You can also add other herbs and spices to impart a different flavor to the food. Always keep in mind that you should look for iodine and potassium in your salt. These are the two most important nutrients you need to consider when switching between salts. Iodine is a crucial nutrient that is you need either through salt or added in some way to your diet. Potassium is also found in many salt substitutes. For people suffering from certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, it is important that you consult your doctor before you decide to switch salts. Overall, choose a salt that not only suits your needs but also adds the required flavor to your food, providing you with a smarter and healthier lifestyle.