In one of my articles, I have discussed the effects of too much salt in your diet. Knowing that too much sodium may endanger your health, you might have thought that removing this condiment in your kitchen is the best course of action. That might be possible. However, in reality, we need salt not only for culinary purposes, but for several health reasons as well.
Having said that, in this article, you will read about the different types of salt along with their benefits. Through this, you will be able to decide which among these products are best for your day-to-day dishes without compromising your health.
A. Iodized Salt
Iodized salt is the most common seasoning found in today's market. As its name implies, it has iodine contents. But, what makes this product a good choice?
Basically, the iodine found in this type of salt is vital to your health. First, this essential nutrient can greatly improve your cognitive skills. Several studies have shown that iodine deficiency can lower a person's IQ - as high as 15 points.Credit: photo credit: zole4/freedigitalphotos.net
Iodized salt is also good for your heart. Remember, high sodium intake can affect your blood pressure. However, according to a study, sodium present in salt is not the primary culprit of hypertension. In fact, it has something to do with the lack of minerals in your diet. To be specific, one can regulate their blood pressure with the aid of iodine. How so?
This has something to do with the thyroid gland and hormones. If you’re familiar with hypothyroidism, this medical condition can negatively affect your cardiovascular health. With sufficient amounts of iodine in your diet, you can guarantee that your thyroid gland is producing enough thyroid hormones.
Aside from those benefits, iodized salt can also help remove harmful substances out of your body, boost your energy levels and help fight depression.
Although iodine can give you several advantages, consuming too much of this substance can also lead to certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism. Moreover, this type of salt does not only contain high concentrations of sodium. It has undergone mechanical processing. As a result, its natural trace minerals are usually removed or compromised during the manufacturing process.
If you think that you're consuming insufficient amounts of iodine, you can always get it in natural sources such as seafood products.
B. Sea salt (Himalayan and Celtic)
It is a given fact that all salts came from the ocean or sea. If you’ve heard about rock salts or salt deposits, they are evidently formed when a sea or ocean has dried-up. Depending on the type of salt, some may undergo heavy mechanical processing while others undertake minimal processing. As for regular sea salt, it is normally made by evaporating sea water. So, is this type of salt good for you?
Being a less processed product, sea salt’s trace minerals are still intact. However, compared to “iodized salt,” this specific type is a bit pricey. Fleur de sel, Himalayan, Celtic and Maldon are the common examples of sea salts found in today’s market.
As for this article, let us focus on the two most popular sea salt varieties namely Himalayan and Celtic. So, what is the difference between the two?
Celtic sea salt is normally produced in France’s coastal region while Himalayan salt is hand-mined in the mountainous areas of Pakistan. Why is this relevant?
Basically, since the latter is “mined”, most people consider it as "ancient" and not “freshly” made. This is where debates start. Some people may argue that because of this fact, the pinkish colored condiment (Himalayan) may contain some impurities compared to its grayish colored counterpart (Celtic). This might be true for Himalayan salt products that are apparently sold for a lesser price. But, authentic pink salt products have undergone enormous amounts of pressure for the past centuries enabling it to retain its purest form up until today.
Another distinction between the two is their chemical composition. According to some quality control tests, Celtic sea salt has lesser concentrations of sodium and a higher percentage of trace minerals. This is one of the major reasons why most people choose Celtic over Himalayan. Nevertheless, both products are two of the most recommended salt in today's market.
As a conclusion, sea salt products including the regular variety are more superior compared to the highly processed table salt. But, this does not mean that these products are very healthy. Remember; even though it has trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium and bromide; sea salt is mostly made up of sodium. Hence, it is strongly advised to use these condiments sparingly. Furthermore, with the popularity of these condiments, counterfeit or impure brands are now marketed everywhere. For this specific reason, one should only opt for trusted brands.
C. Potassium Salt
Another interesting variety is potassium salt. As its name implies, this specific type of salt has a high concentration of potassium and low or even zero sodium contents. Why is this important?
As I've mentioned above, consuming too much sodium can bring forth several undesirable health effects. Considering that fact, it is only logical to opt for a type of salt that has low amounts of sodium like potassium salt. But, before jumping into any conclusions, let us first explore some important facts related to this specific condiment.
Since potassium is the key component of this condiment, one can assess this product's quality and value by understanding the importance of this mineral in a physiological point of view.
First of all, potassium is an essential electrolyte. It has several bodily functions such as regulating body fluids and making sure that your nerve cells transmit the right signals.
What about its relation to hypertension?
As mentioned above, too much sodium in your diet may result to hypertension. This is because sodium inhibits your kidney's capability to eliminate fluids. This will inevitably result to increase in blood volume. If this is the case, the body has to increase the amount of pressure necessary for the blood to circulate freely and efficiently. Hence, the term “high blood pressure.” One way to resolve this dilemma is to balance your sodium-potassium intake. By opting for potassium salt, you can lessen the amount of sodium in your food without compromising its flavor.
Most patients suffering from hypertension will definitely benefit from this salt. However, keep in mind that consuming too much potassium can also lead to hyperkalemia. Thus, it is strongly recommended to consult your physicians before using this specific type of salt. This is vital because potassium is also found in natural sources such as bananas and sweet potatoes. Your physician may or may not recommend this product depending on your current health status, medication, lifestyle and diet.
D. Kosher Salt
Some of you are probably familiar with the term “kosher” since it is one of the popular dietary laws of the Jewish society. However, this type of seasoning is not made or manufactured according to these dietary laws.
Its name "kosher salt" is actually derived from its primary function in the culinary industry, which is the “kosher process”. Nonetheless, most of today's chefs use this seasoning not only to remove blood in meat, but also because of its grain-like structure. This specific characteristic of kosher salt allows chefs to easily control the amount of salt used in their daily menus. But, is this product a healthy choice?
Basically, this type of salt is also processed like iodized and ordinary table salt. As such, it does not contain added minerals. But, of course, this product is better. How so?
Consider their physical characteristics shown in the image above. Regular table salt is small while kosher is larger and grain-like. Now, imagine a teaspoon of each. To the naked eye, this will not show any difference. But, if you take volume into consideration, several experiments have shown that there are lesser pieces of kosher salt in one teaspoon compared to its finer or smaller counterparts. Therefore, a teaspoon of this condiment will apparently have lower concentrations of sodium compared to other types of salt.
Additional Information about Salt Consumption
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