We all know sodium or “salt” has taken a bad reputation for many years due to its ill effects on the body. As much as regular table salt (a.k.a. iodized salt) is known to have ill effects, there is also a flip side to Sodium in general. Not all salt is the same and our bodies “need” Sodium to carry out proper bodily functions. Actually, Sodium is so important that it is overlooked / underestimated and one of the main Macro-minerals that is tested for in blood tests along with: Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus and Magnesium. I guess we can come the conclusion that salt is very important, right? True enough. But I am pretty sure I know what you are thinking, if table salt (Iodized Salt) is bad for you, what salt is good for you? That would be an excellent question to ask. There are about 3 main types of edible salts to use which are similar but also vastly different, plus 10 other salt varieties we don’t see everyday. Here we go:
Iodized Salt (Table Salt)
Table salt is mixed with a minute amount of various salts of the element Iodine. The ingestion of iodine prevents iodine deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Deficiency also causes thyroid gland problems, including “endemic goitre”. In many countries, iodine deficiency is a major public health problem that can be cheaply addressed by purposely adding small amounts of Iodine to the Sodium Chloride salt.
This would be the worst kind of salt to use. This is the regular salt that most physicians will tell you to cut down or stay away from. The most common physical side effect of the use of table salt would be developing high blood pressure. This would be correct. Because table salt has been refined and tampered with, all the good trace minerals (which usually come along with salt in general) are stripped away and possibly other ingredients added to it (like Iodine). Table salt creates problems like mineral imbalances which in then in turn causes inflammation throughout the body. I do not recommend anyone to use table salt except for salting their driveway in the winter time. I kid you not.
Is salt produced from the evaporation of seawater, rather than by being extracted from sedimentary deposits. It is commonly used in cooking and cosmetics. It is also called bay salt or solar salt. Like mineral salt, production of sea salt has been dated back to prehistoric times.
Climbing the quality latter would be choosing sea salt. Although some resources will say there is little to no other benefit to using sea salt over table salt, I disagree. Sea salt is a lot better than table salt, less processed and more natural of course. Not to mention, you are also getting about 60 trace minerals (which the body benefits from and/or needs) where table salt falls short. Sea salt doesn’t affect a person’s blood pressure like table salt does. A person with high blood pressure should be able to use sea salt with no problems (consult with a physician if not sure). Overall, sea salt tastes better than table salt which is probably due to its trace mineral content.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Is rock salt or halite from the Punjab region of Pakistan. It was named “Himalayan Pink Salt” after the iron rich pink clay ore found in the Himalayas.
Stepping up the quality a notch, is my personal favorite Himalayan Salt. Mined out of the Himalayas, this pink type of salt is better than Table and Sea Salt in my opinion. Himalayan Salt typically has about 84 trace minerals which gives it a very robust mineral profile. Himalayan Salt also doesn’t affect a person’s blood pressure like table salt does (on the contrary actually). A person with high blood pressure should be able to use Himalayan Salt as well with no problem (consult with a physician if not sure). Himalayan Salt also tastes better than Table Salt which is probably due to its robust trace mineral content. I personally use Himalayan Salt and encourage other to do so as well. On a side note, every person I have had try Himalayan salt over any other has not gone back to their old salt. Just saying…
Now for the less popular salt varieties:
Koshering salt, or kosher salt, is flakier and coarser than regular table salt. Its large grain size makes it perfect for sprinkling on top of meat, where it releases a surprising blast of flavor. Kosher salt also dissolves quickly, making it a perfect all-purpose cooking salt.
And believe it or not, all kosher salt is not certified kosher. Rather, it’s used in the koshering process, when surface fluids are removed from meat through desiccation.
Celtic Sea Salt
Also known as sel gris, or grey salt, Celtic sea salt is harvested from the bottom of tidal ponds off the coast of France. The salt crystals are raked out after sinking; this, plus the mineral-rich seawater its extracted from, gives Celtic salt its moist, chunky grains, grey hue and briny taste.
It’s great on fish and meat, as both a cooking and finishing salt, as well as for baking.
Fleur De Sel
French for flower of salt, fluer de sel is a sea salt hand-harvested from tidal pools off the coast of Brittany, France. Paper-thin salt crystals are delicately drawn from the water’s surface, kinda like cream is taken from milk. This can only be done on sunny, dry days with a slight breeze, and only with traditional wooden rakes. Because of its scarcity and labor-intensive harvesting, fleur de sel is the most expensive salt. Its nickname is “the caviar of salts.”
It retains moisture and has blue-grey tint from its high mineral content and oceanic beginnings. If you can afford it, use fleur de sel as a finishing salt to add an impressive dash of flavor to meat, seafood, vegetables, even sweets like chocolate and caramel.
Kala namak, or black salt, 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, its salty taste and a faint aroma of eggs. It’s often used in vegan and vegetarian dishes to give egg-free dishes the taste of egg.
Harvested from salt water through evaporation, boiling, or other means, flake salt is thin and irregularly shaped with a bright, salty taste and very low mineral content.
This shapes means the crunchy flake salt dissolves quickly, resulting in a “pop” of flavor. Use it as a finishing salt, especially on meats or pretzels.
Black Hawaiian Salt
Aka black lava salt, black Hawaiian salt is a sea salt harvested from the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It gets its black color from the addition of activated charcoal.
Coarse-grained and crunchy, black Hawaiian salt is great for finishing pork and seafood.
Red Hawaiian Salt
Aka alaea salt, this unrefined, red Hawaiian salt gets its name and color from the reddish volcanic clay alaea.
Used for centuries in ceremonial ways for cleansing, purification and the blessing of tools, red Hawaiian salt is also great in the kitchen, adding an attractive finish and robust flavor to seafood and meat, as well as traditional Hawaiian dishes.
Slow-smoked up to two weeks over a wood fire, like hickory, mesquite, apple, oak or alder wood, smoked salt adds an intense and smoky flavor to dishes.
Depending on the time smoked and the wood used, tastes will vary from brand to brand. Smoked salt is the best of the different types of salt to use for flavoring meats and heartier vegetables like potatoes.
Pretty self explanatory. Used for pickling and brining, pickling salt does not contain many of the trace minerals of sea salt, which can cause ugly discoloration of the preserved food.
Is a finishing salt, usually consisting of sea salt that has been laced with fragrant pieces of black or white truffle. It has a meaty, earthy flavor and is often added as a seasoning to egg, meat, and pasta dishes. Unlike truffle oil, truffle salt is not usually of synthetic origin.
Not largely popular and still quite new for general use is truffle salt. Similar to sea salt and himalayan salt, truffle salt is quite similar in taste as well as trace mineral profile. Truffle salt is more like sea salt with a few more extra minerals in it and is well known for its “earthly taste” over its himalayan counterpart. Due to its unpopularity, truffle salt can be a tad hard to find so opting for himalayan salt is the next best choice.
Now that we know the different types of salts that are out there for use, we can dive in further on some of the benefits to sodium/salt in the diet.
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