It is #SaltAwarenessWeek 2019!
With the popularity of sea salt and other culinary salt on the rise, let’s dispel some myths.
Sea salt and specialty culinary salts, such as Pink Himalayan Salt
, are booming in popularity in restaurants and supermarkets around the world. Chefs, food manufacturers, and consumers alike are using these salts in part due to taste and texture, but also because of the perception that they are "all natural," less processed than table salt, and contain additional minerals like magnesium.
In fact, many claims about the health benefits of Pink Himalayan Salt have been made by the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan which have never been established. Are false perceptions leading to increased demand for sea salt and specialty culinary salts? Let’s dispel some myths:
Sea salt has lower sodium content than iodized salt.
By weight, sea salt and iodized salt contain the same amount of sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts label to compare how a given sea salt compares to table salt, which has about 2,300 mg sodium per teaspoon, or about 40% of its total weight.
Sea salt is healthier because it’s unprocessed.
In fact, most iodized salt is originally harvested from the sea, but undergoes a processing step in which iodine is added. The salt is then packaged and sold using labels indicating the presence of iodine. Some iodized salt is mined from rock salt, but in both cases, there is minimal processing.
Large-crystal salt can be iodized, or it can be 'refined' into smaller particle size before iodine is added to it. Refining salt makes its texture smoother and more homogeneous, which means that iodine can be added more evenly, and the salt will stay well-iodized for longer.
In cases where sea salt undergoes minimal processing, it retains trace levels of minerals – which brings us to Myth 3
Sea salt is healthier because it contains minerals like magnesium.
While it’s true that magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients remain in sea salt and some culinary salts, those trace elements are so minute that they actually have negligible nutritional value. The more significant contribution of these additional minerals is to add flavor.
: Raw sea salt is a natural source of iodine that will fulfill my dietary need for iodine.
: Raw sea salt does contain some iodine but not nearly enough to meet every day needs, so to meet iodine requirements, other sources are required.
The raw truth
While most of the minerals naturally found in sea salt can be acquired through other foods in the diet in more meaningful quantities, it is not the case for iodine. Iodized salt is the best, and in many settings, the only dietary source of iodine.
For a heart-healthy diet, we should consume salt in moderation. That is why it is important that all salt we consume be iodized, whether the salt that is purchased in a supermarket and used in homes, or the salt that is used in the manufacture of processed foods and condiments (e.g. stock or bouillon cubes).