The most common salt types and their health benefits.
I got inspired to write this post a few weeks ago. One of the Polish dietitians recommended eating only Himalayan pink salt. On the other side, some blogger spoke about eating regular table salt as it is better for our health. What also supported my decision to write about it were my followers on Instagram. I have asked them in a story to vote for the salt type they are using in their cooking. As the voting ended 50% (table salt) to 50% (pink Himalayan salt) I had no other choice then to look at this topic more closely.
So which salt is the best for your health? What salt types are the most used in cooking? And which one you should be eating at the end? Find the answers and much more information in the full article below.
What is salt?
Salt is a mineral composed of sodium and chlorine and together they create a sodium chloride (NaCl). It is mostly present in seawater where it is the main mineral. Seawater contains about 35g of salt per 1 liter. Salt is essential for life on earth and it is one of the basic human tastes.
History and production of salt.
Some of the earliest evidence of salt processing dates to around 6,000 BC. The first areas where the salt was extracted were today’s Romania and China. It was also known by Byzantines, Romans, and Hebrews.
Salt is processed from salt mines, and by the evaporation of seawater (sea salt) and mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools. It is used in many industrial processes including the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride, plastics, paper pulp, and many other products.
The annual global salt production is around 200 mil. tonnes and only 6% is used for human consumption.WIKIPEDIA
The most common salt types.
Table salt is the most common one. It is created by superheating natural salt to 650 degrees Celsius, which destroys most beneficial compounds. During this process, it is iodinized (meaning, iodine is added) to prevent iodine deficiency. Table salt is also bleached and devoid of trace elements, so it’s certainly not the healthiest salt you can eat.
Most people are very familiar with sea salt. This salt comes from the seawater and undergoes an evaporation process to separate the salt from the water. Sea salt contains a small amount of natural iodine, although not nearly as much as iodized salt. It is typically much less refined than table salt and comes in both fine and coarse varieties.
While sea salts are a great unrefined choice, unfortunately, pollution is steadily becoming a concern. Few hundred years ago the seawater was clean, but unfortunately, today is full of microplastics. While this is no reason to give up sea salt completely, but if you want to minimize microplastic consumption, eat other types of salts as well.
Pink Himalayan salt
These salts come from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains. Their pink color comes from their rich iron content. This salt is actually quite rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential elements required by your body. Pink Himalayan salt is used in spa treatments, as well as the kitchen.
Pink salt is helping to keep your blood sugar on a steady level and it is also it is promoting healthy pH in your body cells. Many experts recommend pink salt as one of the healthiest salts you can consume.
PRO cooking tip: Pink Himalayan salt ads a bolder flavor to dishes and it is recommended to use it as a finishing salt. Meaning you should add it to your dishes at the end of cooking or once the dishes are cooked.
Kala namak (“black salt” in Nepalese) is Himalayan salt that’s been packed in a jar with charcoal, herbs, seeds, and bark, then fired in a furnace for a full 24 hours before it’s cooled, stored and aged.
This process gives kala namak its reddish-black color, salty taste and a sulfurous aroma of eggs. It’s often used in VeGaN and vegetarian dishes to give egg-free dishes the taste of egg, as well as in Ayurvedic practice.
My tip: Use this type of salt very wisely. Once you add too much of it it will destroy your dish completely. I am still getting sick when I am thinking about the VeGaN mayonnaise which I have made with it. Yucky 🙁
Harvested from salt water through evaporation, flake salt is thin and irregularly shaped with a bright, salty taste and very low mineral content.
PRO cooking tip: As the crunchy flakes dissolve quickly use it as a finishing salt, especially on meats.
The salty summary.
Salt remains essential for health, wellness, and cooking. What has required clarification is if one kind of salt is healthier than any other. All salts are similar in sodium content with minimal mineral differences. The following list sums up the bottom line of what you should know about salt comparisons:
- Salt is salt, used for flavor, and not to add nutritional value.
- One teaspoon of salt contains around 2400 mg of sodium.
- Fancier packaging and marketed health claims make salt more expensive, but not healthier.
- All salts, regardless of different textures or color, remain comparable in sodium content.
- Consuming high levels of salt can cause increased blood pressure and water retention.