What’s with all These Types of Salt…Does it Really Matter?

Salt is mainly composed of two elements, sodium and chlorine.  There are many different forms of salt, each with different colors and slightly different chemical composition.  Salt is mined or evaporated from sea water.  It is added to food during cooking, giving additional flavor.  Salt is also used as food preservative.  In mainstream culture, salt is perceived as unhealthy, due to its water-binding properties, raising blood pressure.  Processed foods contain the majority of salt consumed in the Western diet.

Table Salt

Table salt is highly refined.  It is heavily ground and most of the minerals and impurities have been removed, hence the white color. It is almost pure sodium chloride.  Anti-caking agents are added due to the clumping together of the heavily ground particles.  Iodine is also added to table salt as a public health measure to prevent hypothyroidism, mental retardation and other health issues. 

Sea Salt

Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water.  It contains high amounts of sodium and chloride, but also contains minerals, such as potassium, iron, and zinc.  Due to the specific quantity and mineral content, sea salt can have a variety of dark tones.  In addition, due to the pollution of the oceans, it may contain heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.  Sea salt is less refined and therefore has a different feel and flavor than regular table salt.

Himalayan Sea Salt

Himalayan salt is mined in Pakistan.  It contains trace amounts of iron oxide, giving it its pink color.  It contains calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.  The sodium content is lower than that of table salt.  It is one of the purest salts available.  It can also hold a specific temperature for a lengthy period of time making salt slabs popular to serve food on.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt was originally used for extracting the blood from meat, as in accordance with Jewish Law.  The main difference between kosher salt and sea salt are the shape and size of the “craggy” flakes.  It is these unique characteristics that allow it to easily extract blood.  It is less likely to contain anti-caking agents and iodine, but many brands still use preservatives.  The flakes dissolve fast and can be used in any dish.

Celtic Salt

Celtic Salt became popular in France.  It is grey in color and contains water, making it moist.  It is made from seawater and contains trace amount of minerals.

Which Salt Is The Best?

It is my opinion that Himalayan Salt is the healthiest.  The trace mineral content is beneficial and contains no anti-caking agents.  It is less processed than many of the other types of salt.  Please remember that salt (table) is added to everything and used extensively in restaurant cooking.  It should be consumed in moderation, as it raises blood pressure.

 

Dr. Scott M. Schreiber

Dr. Scott Schreiber has been practicing in Newark, Delaware for over eleven years.  He is a chiropractic physician that is double board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition.  He is a certified nutrition specialist and a licensed dietitian/nutritionist.