It Matters: The Best Salt To Cook With (For Your Health and the Planet)

sea salt

Salt isn’t all that bad. It’s actually quite beneficial for your health. What it comes down to is knowing what exactly is the best salt to cook with, so you can get the most out of your sodium intake. 

Without salt, your muscles would cease to operate, your thinking capacity would dwindle, your memory would fall to shambles, and your heart would stop beating. And while the amount of salt you consume is important, what’s often not talked about is just how important the quality of the salt is. Is there such a thing as a best salt when it comes to healthy sodium intake?

Medical organizations link excess sodium consumption with an increased risk for hypertension and other cardiovascular-related diseases. However, the truth about salt consumption and how sodium caters to our health hinges on what we qualify as “salt” to begin with and, as in all things in life, our level of moderation. If you learn about the type of salt you should be using in your kitchen, you can graduate the role of salt in your life from demon to saint.

The salt breakdown goes a little like this: standard table salt, sea salt, and rock (or mineral) salt. Unrefined salt is packed with trace elements also found in human blood, such as magnesium and potassium. Refined salt, also known as table salt, is devoid of trace elements and is simply pure sodium chloride, with often the addition of iodine. (The addition of iodine to salt has become routine around the world due to fear of iodine deficiency, which is the root of many other disorders. However, unless you live in famine-like conditions, chances are you are getting enough iodine from a balanced diet, with some of us even getting far too much.) Table salt is also the result of an environmentally harsh process of mining salt. Factory-refined salt as well creates an impact on the environment you don’t see in other salt processes.

By weight, unrefined salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium, but choosing unrefined rock salt and sea salt over the chemical table salt is your best salt option for optimal health and benefit to the environment.

Unrefined mineral salts usually bear a pinkish or off-white color due to the number of minerals, and they can also vary in texture and size. Even if the package label says “sea salt” or “mineral salt,” still check the ingredients list. If “sodium chloride” is listed, then the salt has been refined. And, sea salt doesn’t have to qualify as exotic in terms of its origin to be worthy. Support local salt producers and make an even bigger difference in the world.

Image: mriggen

Related on EcoSalon:

Foodie Underground: Adventures with Chocolate and Sea Salt

Top 20 High Sodium Foods (& 10 Tips to Reduce Your Intake)

Want to Eat Better? Check Out These 20 Low-Sodium Foods