Last week’s post discussed the effects on your health of consuming too much salt, the maximum amount you should consume each day, and how to cut back on your salt intake if you’re consuming too much. This post focuses on the fun side of salt—the many varieties of this flavorful mineral available, what makes one type different from another, and a few interesting facts about each.
The Mayo Clinic says that table salt tends to be mined from underground salt deposits, is processed to remove minerals, and typically has an anti-clumping agent added to it. While you may have heard that sea salt has additional health benefits compared to table salt, it’s just not true. The same Mayo Clinic article notes that they have about the same levels of sodium per weight, and really have very little difference in nutrition. Table salt has a fine-grained, regular consistency. According to Health.com, it dissolves quickly use, so is the ideal salt for you to use in cooking and baking.
Sea Salt. SFGate describes the process by which sea salt is made as simply evaporating seawater, leaving the natural minerals and nutrients, potentially including magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and iodine. Compared to table salt, you may have noticed that the granules are somewhat larger, can vary in color, and can have slightly different tastes depending on its origins. Healthnutnation recommends adding sea salt to foods after you cook because cooking tends to cause the unique flavors of sea salt to disappear. By the way, did you know that the word “salary” comes from the fact that Roman soldiers were sometimes paid their wages in salt?
Iodized salt is just table salt with added iodine. Go Ask Alice, a team of health experts and researchers from Columbia University, explains that you require a small amount of iodine each day for good health. Without enough of it, you can develop a condition called a goiter in which your thyroid gland enlarges and causes your neck to swell. The World Health Organization notes, too, that a lack of iodine can cause adults to lose much as 15 IQ points and that pregnant women need more if it in their diet to prevent brain damage to their developing baby. In the US, iodine started being added to table salt many years ago to avoid iodine deficiency issues. The issue is rare in developed nations, but still remains a concern in developing countries.
Like sea salt, kosher salt tends to have larger crystals, either from packing granules together or from using an evaporation process to form them. Healthnutnation recommends using it on meat before cooking for moisture retention. What makes salt kosher? It turns out that this is a common misperception—the salt is used in the process of making meats kosher. You should probably call it “koshering salt,” not “kosher salt.”
You’ve probably seen or used pink Himalayan salt. A few years ago it was all the rage. According to AuthorityNutrition, Himalayan salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. Its pinkish color is due to iron oxide, or rust. Although some claim that it has more health benefits than other types of salt, the web site Science-Based Medicine notes that it has as many dangerous minerals as healthy ones. However, the article goes on to say that the minerals are in such miniscule amounts that using Himalayan salt probably has neither positive nor negative impacts on your health.
You don’t want to eat this kind of salt—or Epsom salt, which can have a laxative effect! As Scientific American notes, it’s mostly used for deicing roads and sidewalks, and for lowering the freezing point of ice in an ice cream maker so that the cream mixture in the adjacent container can freeze. Do you want to combine running with touring a rock salt mine? If so, you can go run in the Mine Run 5K on February 18, 2017. In what’s touted as the deepest 5K in the world, you run with a flashlight and helmet 650 feet underground in the Strataca, The Kansas Underground Salt Museum.
Fleur de Sel
Known by some as the “caviar of salts”—the French sea salt fleur de sel has an approximately $30 per pound cost to match that reputation. According to Food Hacks, famous chefs love it, and in the past, some people even brought their own to sprinkle on their food when dining out. This is a finishing salt that you add to food once it’s cooked; the flavor gets lost if you cook it. Food Hack goes on to say that it’s known to be one of the saltier salts, and due to its greater number of minerals and moisture content, simply has more flavor than other salts.
When you cook or add salt to food, do you have a preference for which salt you use? Most of the recipes on Saladmenu.com call for very little salt or suggest adding “salt to taste,” as does my easy to prepare and delicious Quinoa and Garbanzo Bean Salad recipe. Try adding different salts to it either while preparing it or after its done and share which one you like best.