Food Philosophy Editorial
Salt of the Earth
The multi-tasking benefits of salt.
I once heard it said that "Greeks are like the salt of the Earth...a little sprinkle here; there, enriches life and imbues it with unique flavor but sprinkle too much and it becomes inedible". But I suppose one can say that of most things alas this research concerns itself with the ten unique types of salt and their overview origins; attributes.
From Table Salt and Sea Salt to Persian Blue and Grey Salt....regardless of choice, one should always ensure organic origins, integral cultivation procedures, health pros/cons and mindful usage of 'salt for life'.
Table Salt is created by super heating natural salt to 1,200* F degrees which destroys most of the beneficial compounds. Fortified with essential iodine, table salt is also bleached and devoid of trace elements, so it's certainly not the healthiest salt you can shake. Basically, table salt is the non-salt of the salt as all the healing properties are adulterated and compromised. Plus, this type of salt can often contains additives to slow moisture absorption so it is easy to sprinkle in your salt shake. Some experts claim that this highly refined nature of this salt is responsible for many sodium-related health issues, whereas un-refined salts heal the body instead of harming.
This salt comes from the ocean and undergoes an evaporation process to separate the salt from the water. Sea salt contains a small amount of natural iodine which is a key trace mineral for living in wellness. Although it does not contain as much iodine as iodized salt. It is typically much less refined than table salt and comes in both fine and coarse varieties. While sea salts are a great unrefined choice, unfortunately, pollution is steadily becoming a concern. As our ocean coastlines are cullied with pollutants like microplastics, BPAs, and... it is good to keep yourself in the know and balance Re: your sea-salt consumption and other, earth-bound salts.
These salts come from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains. Their pink color comes from their rich iron content. This salt is, in fact, quite rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential trace elements required by your body. Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions, such as reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health and promoting healthy pH in your cells. Many experts recommend pink salt as one of the healthiest salts you can consume.
Fleur de sel
Meant to be used as a finishing salt, this “flower of salt" usually has a hefty price. It is hand-harvested along the French Riviera in the same pools as Grey salt. Though for every 40 kilograms of grey salt, only 1.5 kilograms of delicate Fleur de sel is harvested. This light and flaky salt is highly prized and generally used for culinary finishings. In terms of health, it's simply a pricey mineral-rich sea salt with a delicate flavor and texture.
Originating from Hawaii and/or the Black Sea region (I adore the delicate black salt flakes), the black lava salt is unrefined and volcanic. Its black color is due to its content of activated charcoal which is great for digestion and removing impurities in the body. The contrast of color can also make dishes more visually interesting. There is also another black salt, Kala Namak, originating from India and is actually pink once it's ground. It is highly sulphuric in taste and content. For this reason, it is thought to be a beneficial digestive aid. Both black salts are highly prized.
Another Hawaiian salt, red salt gets its color from the volcanic Hawaiian clay called, Alaea. As water evaporates, this salt gets trapped in tidal pools, where it mixes with the alaea. It is estimated to contain the highest concentration of essential trace minerals of any salt and especially iron rich. If you have a tendency to be low in iron, this salt may be a good addition to assist in re-balancing your diet.
This unique salt harvested from an ancient salt lake in Iran is extremely mineral rich and slightly sweet. Its blue color comes not from mineral content, but from the natural compression of the salt's structure over the millennia. The same beautiful effect is seen in blue glacial ice, where the molecular structure has been compressed to the point that it begins to refract light differently. While aesthetically exciting, as one of the rarest salts in the world, this salt may not be worth the price per pound, if you're just shopping for health benefits.
Smoked salts have no significant nutritional benefits over normal sea salt. In fact, they are simply sea salts smoked at low temperatures over a bed of coals, which lends a lovely smokey flavor to the crystals and a grey or tan color. The smokey flavor lends dimension to certain dishes, but they have no health benefits beyond those associated with regular sea salt.
Larger, grosso salt crystals. Chemically, it has the same amount of sodium chloride as table salt and sea salt but it is slightly less processed.
and last but never least, the subject of our essay today, dirty salt or Grey Salt.
Colored by the clay from where it's harvested, grey salt is often called Celtic Sea Salt. It is hand-raked in Brittany, France, where the natural clay and sand create moist, mineral-rich crystals. This salt generally retains its moistness. Grey salt can help to restore electrolyte balance, has alkalizing properties and can prevent muscle cramps, much like pink salt. Thus, a bit more expensive, due to the labor intensive process of hand-raking. 1
Internal and external use of salt is essential for harmonic balance of health and wellness.
Some external uses include relaxing and therapeutic baths, topical applications for skin issues like eczema or psoriasis, an exfoliate for the skin, salt water irrigation for allergies or stuffy, dry nasal passages, a deodorant and salt lamps, which purify the air.
If you are concerned about sodium intake, start by cutting back on packaged and processed foods which are the biggest source of sodium in any diet. These synthetic sodium additives are a part of most pre-packaged food items that come in a box, bag, or can. Rule of Thumb: If it is pre-packaged and has more than 5-6 ingredients, consider it processed, thus try to eliminate it from your diet while replacing it with whole foods. The more you can move toward a diet of organic foods in their natural state, the healthier you be-come. Salt is absolutely essential for health, so choose wisely!
See the blog for more on the myth and miracle of salt.