Salt not only helps to bring out the flavor in your food, but it is also essential in helping your body to function properly. You need salt to help you maintain a healthy weight as well as balanced fluid levels. It can help you to prevent cancer, ulcers and kidney problems, it helps to regulate your heart rhythm, and it is good for your brain. Therefore it is very important that you obtain enough salt in your daily diet so that your body can function at its best.
The best way to obtain your salt is naturally from plants, but you can also obtain the benefits from your table salt or unrefined sea salt. Both salts contain similar ingredients, but at the same time there is a difference between the two. And knowing what this difference is may compel you to throw your old salt out.
Sea salt is obtained naturally from sea waters. The water is collected into large ponds where it is allowed to naturally evaporate from the sun and wind. As the water evaporates, the salt is left behind, and is raked into layers. The more mineral rich salt settles towards the bottom, while the whiter salt remains on top.
The sea salt is cleaned from any debris, but all minerals are left in the salt. The more minerals that the salt contains the richer the color of the salt will be. Depending on where the salt is obtained, it can be a pinkish, grayish or sandy color.
What it Contains
About 98% of unrefined sea salt is sodium chloride, and the other 2% contain essential trace minerals. The sea salt can contain up to 92 essential minerals, which include iron, potassium, iodine, manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc and sulfur.
Unrefined sea salt is normally not free-running, which means that it will clump up in your salt shaker. This is because there are no anti-clumping agents added to it. Depending on the brand it may appear to be dry and free running, but it can still clump in the shaker, while others will be moist when you purchase them.
Unrefined sea salt has no additional iodine added to it, but it does contain a natural form in small amounts. However, you can purchase iodized sea salt as well, but make sure to read the labels to ensure that it does not contain any stabilizers or other unnatural ingredients. Iodine is an essential trace mineral that is beneficial to your brain, and helps to prevent mental diseases such as depression, ADHD, and retardation in children.
Table salt can be obtained either from sea waters or from underground salt mines. But what makes table salt different from sea salt is the fact that it is heavily processed and has other ingredients added to it.
What it Contains
During processing the table salt is heated at high temperatures and stripped of all of its natural minerals. The only minerals that remain are sodium and chloride.
Anti-Clumping Agents. Then once the salt has been refined, other ingredients are added to keep it from clumping such as sodium alumino-silicate and alumino-calcium silicate. These anti-clumping agents contain high amounts of aluminum which is very toxic to the body and brain.
Sugar. Aluminum is also bitter, and thus a form of sugar such as glucose is added to help neutralize the bitterness. Sugar is also bad for your health and can cause serious diseases.
Iodine. Iodine is added in the form of potassium iodide. When ingested the body is able to break it down into iodine.
Stabilizers. However, in order to preserve the potassium iodide so that it does not break down before it is ingested, stabilizers are added. These are usually in a form of sugar such as glucose or dextrose.
The added ingredients are added in very small amounts, as once the processing is finished, the salt content remains at about 99.9% sodium chloride and only .01% other ingredients. However, table salt is acidifying to the body, as all the minerals which help to neutralize the acidifying effect of the sodium chloride are stripped out.
Which is Healthier?
By looking at the difference between the two salts, it is fairly easy to determine that unrefined sea salt is a healthier choice.
Table Salt. Table salt contains added ingredients which are harmful to the body. But at the same time it also contains significant amounts of iodine which is essential to your body. However, there are plenty of other sources of iodine such as unrefined sea salt, sea vegetables and any fruits or vegetables that are grown in iodine rich soil.
Sea Salt. Sea salt does not contain any unnatural ingredients, but rather it contains many essential minerals which your body needs. However, these minerals are not easily absorbed into the body, as your body is designed to obtain them naturally from fresh fruits and vegetables which have been grown in mineral rich soil. Thus watering your garden with unrefined sea salt can help you to obtain the minerals naturally.
How Much Do You Need?
Sodium. The recommended amount of sodium is between 1500 to 2400 mg per day. This equates to about 1 tsp. or less, as 1 tsp contains up to 2400 mg. Excess amounts of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, heart attacks and fluid retention.
Iodine. The daily recommended amount for iodine differs in individuals:
- Babies up to 1 year old only require between 40 to 50 micrograms per day.
- Children between 1 to 3 only require 70 micrograms.
- Children between 4 to 6 require 90 micrograms.
- Children between 7 to 10 require about 120 micrograms.
- Children 11 and over as well as most adults require about 150 micrograms.
- Pregnant women require 175 micrograms.
- Nursing mothers require 200 micrograms.
1 tsp. of unrefined sea salt contains roughly about 10 micrograms of iodine, while iodized salt can contain as much as 400 micrograms per tsp.
Therefore if you want to depend on your salt shaker to provide you with these recommended requirements you will end up overdosing on one ingredient or not get enough of the other. For if you want to obtain your recommended amount of sodium from your salt, then you would be overdosing on the iodine if you were to use iodized table salt. An overdose on iodine can lead to thyroid cancer and thyroid disease.
How To Obtain Sodium and Iodine Naturally
Sodium. Many plants such as dark green vegetables are able to provide you with all the required sodium. This sodium is easily absorbed into your body so that you will not have to worry about health problems due to a build up in your tissues.
Iodine. Iodine can be obtained naturally from any fruits and vegetables that are grown in iodine rich soil. It can also be obtained naturally in high amounts from sea vegetables such as kelp, nori, and arame.
When you obtain these nutrients from natural sources then you are much more likely to receive a balanced supply so that you will not overdose on any of them. But if you enjoy salt on your food, then your best option is to use unrefined sea salt, as it is not acidifying, does not contain unnatural ingredients, and will not cause you to overdose on iodine.