9 Different Kinds of Salt: Which Is the Healthiest?
Salts have exploded with popularity. What once was a simple decision between iodized table salt or sea salt has become a sensory overload. Walk into Whole Foods to restock on salt and you'll be confronted with a dazzling array of colors, textures and price points. But, what really differentiates specialty salts? Are expensive salts actually worth the money?
Here is a guide to nine different culinary salts that will help you decide what salt is best for your needs.
Table salt is created by superheating natural salt to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys most beneficial compounds. Fortified with essential iodine, table salt is also bleached and devoid of trace elements, so it's certainly not the healthiest salt you can shake. This type of salt can often contains additives to slow moisture absorption so it is easy to sprinkle in your salt shaker.
Some experts claim that this highly refined version of salt is responsible for many sodium-related health issues, whereas unrefined salts heal the body instead of harming it.
Most people are very familiar with sea salt. This salt comes from—you guessed it—the ocean and undergoes an evaporation process to separate the salt from the water. Sea salt contains a small amount of natural iodine, although not nearly as much as iodized salt. It is typically much less refined than table salt and comes in both fine and coarse varieties.
While sea salts are a great unrefined choice, unfortunately, pollution is steadily becoming a concern. Whereas ancient seas were once clean, we have sullied our ocean coastlines with pollutants like microplastics. While this is no means a reason to give up sea salt—microplastics have infiltrated nearly everything—it's good to keep yourself in the know and balance your sea salt consumption with other, earth-bound salts.
3. Himalayan Pink
These salts come from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains. Their pink color comes from their rich iron content. This salt is, in fact, quite rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential trace elements required by your body. Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions, such as reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health and promoting healthy pH in your cells.
Many experts recommend pink salt as one of the healthiest salts you can consume. Its popularity has made it more affordable than other more exotic salts on the market.
Colored by the clay from where it's harvested, grey salt is often called Celtic Sea Salt. It is hand-raked in Brittany, France, where the natural clay and sand create moist, mineral-rich crystals. This salt generally retains its moistness.
Grey salt can help to restore electrolyte balance, has alkalizing properties and can prevent muscle cramps, much like pink salt. However, this salt is a bit more expensive, due to the labor intensive process of hand-raking.
5. Fleur de sel
Meant to be used as a finishing salt, this “flower of the salt" usually has a hefty price tag. It is hand-harvested along the French coastline in the same pools as grey salt.
However, for every 40 kilograms of grey salt produced, only 1 1/2 kilograms of delicate fleur de sel is harvested. This light and flaky salt is highly prized and generally used for finishing foods. In terms of health, it's simply a pricey mineral-rich sea salt with a delicate flavor and texture.
Originating from Hawaii, black lava salt is unrefined and volcanic. Its black color is due to its content of activated charcoal, which is great for digestion and removing impurities in the body.
The contrast of color can also make dishes more visually interesting. There is also another black salt, kala namak, which originates from India and is actually pink once it's ground. It is highly sulphuric in taste and content. For this reason, it is thought to be a beneficial digestive aid. Both black salts are highly prized and can be healthful when used on occasion.
Another Hawaiian salt, red salt gets its color from the volcanic Hawaiian clay called alaea. As water evaporates, this salt gets trapped in tidal pools, where it mixes with the alaea.
It is estimated to contain the highest concentration of essential trace minerals of any salt and is especially iron rich. If you have a tendency to be low in iron, this salt may be a good addition to your balanced diet.
8. Persian Blue
This unique salt harvested from an ancient salt lake in Iran is extremely mineral rich and slightly sweet. Its blue color comes not from mineral content, but from the natural compression of the salt's structure over the millennia. The same beautiful effect is seen in blue glacial ice, where the molecular structure has been compressed to the point that it begins to refract light differently.
While aesthetically exciting, as one of the rarest salts in the world, this salt may not be worth the price tag if you're just shopping for health benefits.
Smoked salts have no significant nutritional benefits over normal sea salt. In fact, they are simply sea salts smoked at low temperatures over a bed of coals, which lends a lovely smokey flavor to the crystals and a grey or tan color. The smokey flavor lends dimension to certain dishes, but they have no health benefits beyond those associated with regular sea salt.
When it comes to choosing a healthy salt, don't get confused by price. In general, it's better to consume unrefined salt over table salt, since it's generally lower in sodium and high in essential minerals. Other than that, you don't need to spend a fortune to consume healthy salt. Exotic salts can make for a lovely culinary experience, but in terms of health, no single unrefined salt is undeniably better than another. Choose a salt that suits your needs and enjoy it in combination with a smart, healthy lifestyle.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company's toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.
According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the EPA boss met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel on March 9. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency's own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.
Native communities and environmental justice advocates in Louisiana opened a new resistance camp Saturday to oppose the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline project. Called L'eau Est La Vie, or Water is Life, the camp will consist of floating indigenous art structures on rafts and constant prayer ceremonies during its first two weeks.
Continuing its march toward elimination of key Clean Water Act protections, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday issued a formal notice of withdrawal of the Obama administration's rule defining which waters can be protected against pollution and destruction under federal law.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not doing enough to prevent weed resistance to the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) says a new report from the EPA's Inspector General's Office, which draws in part on a report from the agbiotech company, Pioneer: Weed Management in the Era of Glyphosate Resistance.
When it comes to the latest wind turbine technologies, size matters. A group of six institutions and universities is designing an offshore wind turbine that will stand 500 meters in height. That's taller than the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building.
The research team, led by researchers at the University of Virginia, believes that its wind turbine concept will produce 50 megawatts of peak power, or about 10 times more powerful than conventional wind turbines.
Natural gas is often considered the cleanest fossil fuel, but could it actually be dirtier than coal?
Watch as New York Times reporter Mark Bittman, in the above Year's of Living Dangerously video, investigates how much methane is leaking at fracking wells. Find out how the natural gas industry's claims compare to what scientists are reporting.
See what happens when Gaby Petron, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA, converts her van into a mobile methane detector and sets out across northeastern Colorado for two years, taking thousands of readings to uncover the truth.
Adrian Grenier: 'We Must Usher in a New Era of Compassion Through Forward Thinking Environmental Programs'
Adrian Grenier was named UN Goodwill Ambassador earlier this month. The Hollywood actor, best known for his iconic role of A-list movie star Vincent Chase in the HBO smash hit and film Entourage, will advocate for drastically reducing single-use plastic and protection of marine species, and encourage his followers to make conscious consumer choices to reduce their environmental footprint, according to the UN Environment announcement.
"Together we must usher in a new era of compassion and carefulness through forward thinking environmental programs to drive measurable change," Grenier said. "I am personally committed to creating ways in which the global community can come together to help solve our most critical climate crises through routine, collective action.
"The more we connect to nature in our daily lives, the more dedicated we will become to our individual commitments. Together, I believe we can go further, faster in our race to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030."
Watch the video above to learn more.