Salt: Which Kind is Best for Health?

Wednesday, 03 Apr 2013 01:16 PM

By Lynn Allison

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Salt has long been villainized by doctors – alongside fat and sugar – as among the worst things you can eat. 

We have been warned that salt raises blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke and heart problems. As a result, there is a whole food industry devoted to low-sodium products and to salt substitutes.

But some experts have started to express doubt about whether salt deserves its bad reputation. The fact is, not all salt is created equal.

Certain types of salt are less damaging and can even be beneficial to our health, they say.

Tara Gidus, registered dietitian and nutritionist for the Orlando Magic basketball team, tells Newsmax Health that there are crucial nutritional differences in table, kosher, and sea salts.

“Their textures, uses, and compositions are different and therefore they affect us differently,” Gidus says.

Table salt is the common salt found in shakers. It is mined from underground sources and then processed to give it a fine texture. Table salt usually contains an anti-clumping agent to allow it to flow easily. Most table salts also contain added iodine, which is added to reduce iodine deficiency, a leading cause of mental retardation and thyroid problems.

Because table salt can flow out of shakers quickly and because it also dissolves quickly, it can be easy to over-salt foods with it. Also, in the refining process, healthy minerals are stripped from table salt. It is usually pure sodium chloride, with iodine and anti-clumping agents added.

Kosher salt can be either mined from the earth or harvested from the sea. It has a coarse texture, which causes it to dissolve slower than table salt. The larger crystals and crunchy texture often make foods taste saltier, therefore people use less of it. It is usually refined with few beneficial minerals.

Sea salt is obtained by evaporating sea water. The residue left behind contains not only sodium chloride, but a wide range of other essential minerals. Look for unrefined sea salt, which contains no additives like anti-clumping agents and also has high levels of vital minerals.

Unrefined salts may be brownish in color because of mineral content. The flavor tends to be a bit stronger which may lead you to use less, reducing your sodium intake.

Stephen Sinatra, M.D., a renowned cardiologist and bestselling author of “The Great Cholesterol Myth,” tells Newsmax Health that he prefers Celtic or Himalayan sea salt because it contains more minerals than other sea salts. These minerals include magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Because of their larger crystals, kosher and sea salts contain 20 percent less sodium per tablespoon than table salt.

 If iodine deficiency is not an issue, Dr. Sinatra says the right kind of salt is obvious: Unrefined sea salt. Kosher salt is the next best choice. All salt should be used in moderation, however, he says.  

Sea salt is not always available at supermarkets, but you can usually find it at health food stores. Or, go to: www.saltworks.us.


© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

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