How Salt Affects Your Health
Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Sodium an chlorine are absolutely essential for life in all animals and humans. The main function is to help the brain and nerves send electrical impulses through out your body. The reason salt is often perceived as unhealthy (in large amounts), is that it can bind water in the bloodstream and raise blood pressure.
But even though studies have suggested that lowering salt intake can reduce blood pressure by 1-5.4 mm/Hg, there is no evidence that lowering salt prevents heart attacks, stroke or death.
Most of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods. If you eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods then you don’t need to worry about adding some salt to your meals. Most of the world's salt is harvested from mines, or by
evaporating sea water or other mineral-rich waters.
Different Types of Salt:
Refined Table Salt
- This is the most commonly used salt, it's highly refined with most of the impurities and trace minerals removed. When salt is ground finely it tends to clump together. For this reason, anti-caking agents are added so it flows freely. Table salt is almost pure sodium chloride, 97% or higher.
- Anti-caking agents typically used are Ferrocyanide, talc, and silica aluminate. Aluminum intake may lead to neurological disorders.
- One difference is the addition of iodine which is added to most table salt.
- Iodine deficiency was and still is common in may parts of the world. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism, mental retardation and many other health problems.
- Therefore, if you choose not to eat regular iodine-enriched table salt, then make sure you’re eating some other foods that are high in iodine, like fish, dairy, eggs and seaweed.
- Like table salt, it is mostly just sodium chloride. It does usually contain some amount of trace minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc. The darker the salt the higher the concentration of impurities and trace minerals.
- Sea salt is made by evaporating the sea water and may contain trace amounts of heavy metals like lead due to the pollution of the oceans.
- Sea salt is often less ground than regular refined salt, so if you sprinkle it on top of your food after it has been cooked, it may have a different mouth feel and cause a more potent “flavor burst” than refined salt.
- Use it for: Adding a pungent burst of flavor to just-cooked foods. These crystals will complement anything from a fresh salad to a salmon fillet.
- The main difference between regular salt and kosher salt is the structure of the flakes. It's larger and easier to pick up with your fingers and spread over your food. This texture will give you a burst of salt much like the sea salt when added the last minute to your foods.
- Another difference is most kosher salt does not have any additives like anti-caking agents and iodine.
- Use it for: All cooking, the flavor dispenses quickly and due to it's size is easy to handle.
- Himalayan salt is mined in Pakistan, at the second largest salt mine in the world. The pink color indicates a trace amount of iron oxide (rust). It also contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. There is also slightly lower amounts of sodium then regular salt.
- Many feel there is a flavor difference but I have not noticed any difference. Perhaps my taste buds are not so refined. It does look nice sprinkled on after the item is prepared because of the color.
- Celtic salt is a type of salt that originally became popular in France. I have never tasted it or seen it here. The salt has a greyish color and contains a bit of water, which makes it moist.
- Celtic salt contains trace amounts of minerals and is a bit lower in sodium than plain table salt.
- Use it for: A special-occasion table salt. Spoon it into a salt cellar to be pinched, then sprinkled over food just before eating. Delicately flavored, it adds a perfect hint of saltiness to freshly sliced tomato or melon.
- The main difference between the salts is the taste, flavor, color, texture and convenience.
- The size of the salt affects how the salty flavor hits the tongue. Salt with a larger grain size can have a stronger flavor and last longer on your tongue.
- If you allow the salt to dissolve in the food, then there shouldn’t be any major taste difference between plain refined salt and the other “gourmet” types of salt.
- If you like to use your fingers to sprinkle salt on food, then try salts with a larger grain size. These are much easier to handle.
- Celtic salt has the least amount of sodium and the highest amount of calcium and magnesium. Himalayan salt contains a bit of potassium. We are talking TINY amounts of minerals here nothing that would affect your health.
- The main benefit of choosing more “natural” types of salt is that you avoid the additives and anti-caking agents that are often added to regular table salt.
At the end of the day, salt is salt… its main purpose is to add flavor, not nutrition.
-Types of Salt: Himalayan vs Kosher vs Regular vs Sea Salt
By Kris Gunnars
-6 types of salt and How to Use realsimple.com
-The Truth About Table Salt and The Chemical Industry
By: C. Thomas Corriher, Dec. 6th 2008