Salt and Its Effects on the Body
You have probably learned in your elementary class that salt comes in different forms. We have salt shakers, salt sprinklers, salt rocks, sea salt… and even salt that is frozen. But did you know that there is a type of salt that we use in abundance in the United States that most people don’t know about? That is called kosher salt and it comes in two forms: coarse salt and sea salt. Each of these salt forms has different uses and benefits.
Kosher salt is one of the most used salts for food seasoning and cooking, although its most well-known use is for kosher and Italian food. Because there is no difference in salts that are both kosher salt or sea salt, kosher salt is often used as a substitute for table salt. Often, Jewish cooks will use less kosher salt when making sushi because the additional seafood flavor is more appealing to the sushi consumer. Since kosher salt is not smoked, it is a healthier alternative than sea salt which is smoked with bamboo charcoal, creating a salt with much higher smoke point.
Sea salt is another salt used frequently and is often used as a table salt alternative, although many do not realize that sea salt is not necessarily salt. It is actually a combination of various minerals and rock salts blended together in a sea cave. Because of the high concentration of the minerals, sea salt is very beneficial to our health by energizing our bodies, regulating our blood pressure, and even healing wounds. Due to its high concentration in minerals and trace elements, sea salt is also often referred to as “super salt.”
Now, let’s talk about coarse salt. Coarse salt is often used in barbecues or grilling, and is often the cheapest type of salt you can buy. However, coarser salt tends to have a stripped flavor and should only be used in moderation due to the fact that overcooking it releases the salt content. Many people use kosher salt and table salt interchangeably due to their similar properties. Kosher salt is also somewhat cheaper than coarse salt and it does have a higher melting point.
Rock salt is a variety of natural sea salts harvested from locations around the world. Unlike sea salts, rock salt does not have an electrical charge and does not react with food like sea salts do. The only benefit it has is that it is excellent for seasoning and will improve the texture and flavor of almost any food. Unfortunately, it is also highly expensive.
Clay salt is often used in combination with kosher salt. However, a study conducted by the Journal of Exposure Science found that the chemical composition of clays caused a lowering of blood pressure and increased heart rate. This research was conducted on humans as well as animals. The conclusion was, clays may be a health hazard because it may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. A safer alternative is to purchase table salt which is a refined salt that has been purchased from a commercial source and then re-refined by the salt mill. Commercial table salt contains no minerals, additives or vitamins of any kind and is typically less expensive.
Barley and wheat grains are popular options for salt free snacks and breads. However, these grains are less processed and therefore do not contain any minerals other than potassium. These grains can actually help fight a buildup of salt in the organs, skin, joints and muscles. In addition, barley and wheat grains are lower in calories and carbohydrates and therefore help lose weight.
All salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. Sodium chloride is the main component of salt and its content ranges between sodium and chloride depending on the type of salt. Potassium chloride is found naturally in many foods and is found in small quantities in sea salt, but is the most commonly used element in salt production. It is also used as a preservative in canned fruits, vegetables, pickles and soups. There are other types of salt, but they have less effects on the body and do not add to blood pressure problems or increase heart rates.