Eating healthy provides numerous benefits, including more energy, better sleep, avoiding depression and anxiety, healing chronic illness, preventing disease, and more. Benefit #5,432: you don’t have to be afraid of salt.
Packaged, processed foods are often laden with sodium, MSG, and other “flavor enhancers” that are damaging to human health. Medical associations are regularly announcing the importance of reducing sodium in the diet. But real salt and common table salt are not the same thing. Table salt is chemically stripped and loses its nutritional value in the process. Excess table salt and flavor enhancers are linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and hypertension. If you eliminate unhealthy sources of sodium from your life, real salt is delicious and can actually have some health benefits.
Real salt is full of minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, copper, and zinc. It is essential for proper body function. Salt prevents dehydration, supports brain and nervous system function, and helps with the absorption of potassium. Real salt can also be used to ferment and preserve food. Foods that come from salt water (like fish, seaweed, and salt) are especially good for humans because of their trace minerals, iodine in particular.
“Sea salt” has become a sort of generic name, used by large food corporations that are hopping on the healthy salt bandwagon to promote their product. I generally avoid big brands like Morton simply because I like to support smaller, more ethical companies who use higher quality harvesting techniques. Check your local health food store, or order from Azure Standard, Swanson’s, or Frontier Co-op online. A brand called Real Salt is one of my favorites, as is Selina Naturally. There are several different kinds of real salt: Celtic, pink, kosher, Himalayan, and more. I’ve tried and enjoyed pretty much all of them, but each has its own flavor and nutritional properties. Some of my favorites:
- Kosher salt is a coarse salt, great for curing meat, and for other cooking and baking. It dissolves quickly, so it’s good for general salt flavoring.
- Grey salt or Celtic sea salt is a beautiful grey color. It is typically harvested in France, dried by the sun and wind. It’s another course salt that is good for baking, and seasoning meat or vegetables.
- Himalayan salt is a crystal salt, hand-mined from ancient salt deposits. It is said to contain over 80 trace minerals. It can range in color from white to pink to red, and is considered the purest salt available.
- Hawaiian black salt or black lava salt is a lovely course salt, black in color as its name suggests. The color comes from activated charcoal, which has cleansing properties. It has an earthy, smoky flavor. The color will leech onto food, so it is not great for baking or cooking certain dishes, but it is an excellent finishing salt.
Another benefit to real salt is that kids are often naturally drawn to salty flavor, and it can be a successful way to flavor vegetables to make them more pleasing for a child’s palate. My son loves roasted broccoli made with lemon, raw butter, and finished with black sea salt, and he will devour spinach and romaine salads doused in olive oil and sprinkled with Himalayan salt. The Real Salt brand makes an organic onion salt that adds amazing flavor to scrambled eggs and steamed veggies.
But the reason I am comfortable seasoning our food this way is because our family eats virtually no packaged, processed foods—generally my son only eats such things on special occasions like birthday parties or weddings. Because of his limited consumption of sodium, adding sea salt to his food in small amounts makes it more enjoyable for him while adding essential minerals to his diet.
Most of your favorite snack foods can be replaced with healthier versions that include real, healthy salt. Homemade popcorn with real butter and sea salt is a favorite in my household. Scrambled or fried eggs sprinkled with onion salt and nutritional yeast are a vitamin-packed tasty breakfast. Potato chips can be baked in the oven, made with organic potatoes and real salt. When you eliminate processed, packaged foods from your diet, you are free to enjoy real salt, which is not only better for you, but tastes much better too.