All photos by Shannon
We cook with salt every day and if you’re not cooking with it, then someone else is adding salt in your food for you. Maybe the wrong kind.
Most of the discussions surrounding salt are negative. We often hear about lowering our intake levels, but then aren’t we missing the deeper question: “what salt should we be eating?” In fact, there are quite a few professionals who argue for the health benefits of the right kind of salt.
In attempting to eat a real food diet, it makes sense to find the healthiest form of this everyday ingredient.
So what is a healthy salt?
All salt comes from either the sea or underground mines. All salts are predominantly made up of sodium chloride, but their are vast differences between refined and unrefined salts.
Basically what separates refined salt from unrefined salt is what is added and what is taken away.
Finding The Best Salt
When you look for salt in the grocery store you will find an overwhelming number of options. The following is a guide map.
Iodized Table Salt
This is the most common form of salt consumed today. It is granular, stark white, and lives in most salt shakers across the country. Table salt contains iodine and additives like sodium silicoaluminate or magnesium carbonate to improve pour-ability. These additives are not required to be listed as ingredients on the label.
Kosher salt is not “kosher” itself, but is used to make meats kosher and is commonly called “koshering” salt. It is a larger crystal than the granular table salt and does not contain as many additives as table salt.
It does, however, contain sodium ferrocyanide which…
“is not especially toxic because the cyanides are tightly bound to the metal, although it can react with acid or photodecompose to release hydrogen cyanide gas.”
A little scary, and again not a whole food.
Sea Salt – Refined & Unrefined
Most sea salts sold in supermarkets are white, large-grained, and still somewhat refined. It is hard to tell the difference between a refined sea salt and an unrefined one without doing a little research first. But most of us aren’t going to Google from aisle four of the grocery store.
A few things to look for:
- Color. While refined sea salts are white, almost all unrefined sea salts have a color to them. They are beige, pink, gray, red, or even black. The colors come from the mineral content the salt receives from where it has been harvested.
- Moisture. Some unrefined sea salts are packaged with some of their moisture still intact. This keeps all of the trace minerals – over 80 in some cases – intact.
- Mineral Content. Look at the packaging and see what the salt’s composition is. It should not be entirely sodium chloride. You want to find numerous trace minerals – the larger the quantity, the better.
There are different brands of unrefined sea salt out there, all at different prices. I have seen Celtic Sea Salt come Dr. recommended, as well as a few other brands like Pink Himalayan and Redmond’s Real Salt. Buying them from the grocery store in small quantities can be expensive, though. We buy in bulk when we find a sale. We think of our grocery budget as an investment, not just an expenditure.
The trace minerals found in unrefined salt work synergistically with the sodium chloride to form a nourishing, whole food. As with all foods, it is best found in it’s God-given state, unchanged by man.
What type of salt do you use and why?