Salt is used as a seasoning in many different cuisines and has been around for centuries because it’s so important to our existence. However, in recent years, salt has been scrutinized and stigmatized as an unhealthy additive to our diets that should be avoided over heart health concerns.
That being said, not all salt is created equal; there are refined varieties of salt like table salt that contain many nutrients while unrefined, mineral-rich varieties like sea salt actually have iodine. So which varieties are best to put on your table? Keep reading to find everything you need to know about this common kitchen ingredient.
What Is Sea Salt?
Today, there are three types of salt that you’ll find in the refrigerator: table salt, sea salt and kosher salt. Before these inventions, all salts were derived from natural sources. But before all salts were invented, every single drop of water on Earth was saturated with them.
Today, we’re still left with one type of salt. Table salt is a particular type of sodium chloride produced from the evaporation of current freshwater sources.
It’s often used to accentuate flavors and season food in a way that’s not unhealthy or unpalatable like refined sea salts can be. For me personally, I love using unrefined sea salts in my cooking because they have natural flavors and colors that can’t be replicated with their artificial counterparts—they also provide trace minerals that promote health and wellness!
On the other hand, refined sea salts have been stripped of their unique health-promoting qualities and are often washed to remove chemicals that could cause detrimental effects on your gut depending on where they come from (just check out the difference between horesh/Kosher versus regular table/sea salt).
1. Rich in Trace Minerals
As consumers, it can be hard for us to ensure we get the required amount of micronutrients from our diet. That’s why there are a variety of ways we can make up for the lack of minerals in soil.
Whether you use sea salts or not, trace minerals found in the oceans and seas can help provide superior nutrition. In fact, some studies have shown that sea salts may contain as much as 84 different minerals — more than most other regular types. (1)
2. Prevents Dehydration and Balances Fluids
Here’s how sodium works within the body: salt follows water. As a result, an excess in sodium can cause water retention, dehydration, and extreme thirst.
By consuming sea salt in moderation each day, you also ensure that you are maintaining sufficient levels of sodium and potassium, which help maintain fluid balance within your cells as well as your bloodstream. Keep in mind that these two electrolytes work together to regulate fluid levels.
3. Loaded with Electrolytes
Sea salt has a minimal processing from mining, which preserves its natural mineral content. Throughout history, sea salt has been used in many cultures because of its strong ability to lower blood pressure.
When consumed in moderation, sea salt can help avoid an electrolyte imbalance and prevent serious symptoms like heart attack and stroke that could be catastrophic if untreated. (3)
4. Promotes Brain, Muscle and Nervous System Function
Without the regulation of water balance and the transmission of electrical signals, so many things can get thrown off. While we think a lot about ensuring that you don’t eat too much of anything, it’s just as important to ensure you get enough sodium to avoid cellular malfunction.
5. Supports Digestive Health
If you’re not getting enough salt in your diet, it can also negatively impact your digestive health. In fact, a lack of salt can lead to a depletion of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in the stomach. If you have low stomach acid, it can seriously throw your digestive system out of whack, contributing to issues like heartburn, stomach pain, vomiting and constipation.
6. Promotes Nutrient Absorption
The body requires plenty of stomach acid in order to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from food. For this reason, it’s recommended that you eat a high-quality sea salt every day for optimal benefits. Your body will benefit from tons of essential nutrients as a result!
Types of Sea Salt
The most common types of sea salt, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, are as follows:
Himalayan Sea Salt
Himalayan sea salt is a beautiful translucent pink, and contains all of the elements found in your body. Because of its high nutrient load, doctors of functional medicine report that regularly eating pink Himalayan salt can help improve:
Celtic Sea Salt
Another ancient commodity is Celtic Sea Salt, which is similar to Himalayan crystal salt in its composition and health benefits. Because it is grayish-hued, it can be found naturally harvested in Brittany, France near the Celtic Sea using a 2,000-year-old Celtic method that preserves its life-giving nutrition profile.
One of the main differences between sea salt vs. table salt is that sea salt is often higher in trace minerals and has a richer nutrient profile. Less refined, it has a more intense flavor than other types of salt. It is also less processed, so ingredients like iodine are found in much greater concentrations.
Himalayan sea salt is that flake tastes pink due to the presence of iron oxide; whereas it’s considered the purest form and has a distinct red color due to iodine intake into its body from processing methods.
When comparing sea salt vs kosher salt, kosher will have larger flakes and finer texture with coarse grains. You can easily swap it in for regular table or kosher salt in your recipes by making a homemade sea-salt hair spray or DIY sea-salt facial scrub to take advantage of its benefits.