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Health Benefits of Natural Sea Salt

Updated on November 24, 2012
Course Salt Mill
Course Salt Mill | Source

Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.

To salt or not salt?

For those who are worried about their blood pressure or other health issues, this can be a tough question.

Unfortunately, the table salt we all typically use on a daily basis and that is found in many processed foods is highly refined and unnatural.

Table salt is created by kiln-drying sodium chloride and anti-caking agents are added. During this process, trace minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium salts are all removed. This process creates something that is not only unnatural but, also hard on the body. In short, as many already know, the sodium chloride in refined table salt contributes to high blood pressure as well as heart and kidney problems.

However, sea salt is a whole other matter. It is a slightly healthier alternative for those that like a little salt. While it still contains sodium chloride, it also contains a number of trace minerals.

Sea salt is typically made through the solar evaporation of sea water. The resulting unprocessed salt contains a variety of minerals - minerals that play a vital role in keeping the body's electrolytes in a healthy balance.

Until recently, sea salt was pretty much considered just a basic alternative to iodized table salt and has started to be embraced more by the Western world. However, sea salt has a long, rich history and is starting to become a hot commodity.

Gourmet chefs around the world have taken the use of natural sea salts to a whole new level!

Harvesting of salt after solar evaporation
Harvesting of salt after solar evaporation | Source

Natural sea salts from around the world

These have distinctive qualities and tastes due to the varying mineral content. The minerals present vary due to geographic location.

There are now a number of sea salt varieties that have come to market.

Here are just a few examples:

Pacific Ocean Sea Salt (origin USA)
This is an all white salt made through the natural process of slowly evaporating Pacific Sea water.

French Grey Sea Salt
This is an unrefined and unprocessed mineral-rich salt that comes from the Guerande Region in Brittany, France.

Hawaiian Black Sea Salt
This course sea salt is black in color and silky in texture. It comes from the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii) and is bathed in all natural activated coconut shell charcoal which gives it a black color and an earthy salt flavor.

Hawaiian Red Sea Salt
This salt is rich in trace minerals. The color comes from the reddish Hawaiian clay (‘Alaea) that is enriched with iron oxide.

Himalayan Pink™ Salt
This is a hand-mined salt found deep inside the Himalayan Mountains. These course crystals contain a high mineral content including iron.

Kala Namak Sea Salt ( Indian Black Salt)
This has an egg flavor due to the sulfur being one of the trace minerals in this salt. It is this "egg" flavor that makes it a common spice used in vegan cooking (as an egg flavor substitute - eggs are never used in vegan cooking). The salt crystals are actually light pink, not black, with a grayish tinge.

New Zealand Sea Salt
This comes from the deep waters of the Pacific ocean around New Zealand.

Mediterranean Sea Salt
This comes directly from the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea in a region that is free of pollution. Solar evaporation is used to rapidly create this salt.

Redmond Real Salt®
This comes from a prehistoric salt deposit close to the small town of Redmond, Utah (located over 150 miles away from the Great Salt Lake). It contains over 60 trace minerals.

Fleur de Sell
This gourmet salt as a violet-like aroma and is hand-harvested from the salt marshes in Brittany, France.

Natural Smoked Gourmet Salts

In addition to the sea salts above, naturally smoked gourmet salts are available to add a deeper flavor to foods. Here are two examples:

Alder Smoked Salt
This salt gets its authentic flavor from being slowly smoked over true alderwood.

Yakima™ Applewood Smoked Sea Salt
This is a flaky sea salt that is naturally smoked over Eastern Washington aged Applewood at low temperatures.

Purchasing Healthy Sea Salts

I first noticed the availability of a variety of natural sea salts at my local food co-op. Our local co-op carries a variety of spices and salts from a company called Frontier® (they are dedicated to providing organic and free trade products).

Most of these salts are also available online through companies like Frontier® or Salt Works.

If sea salts are new to you, I encourage you to experiment and perhaps give up using refined table salt and treat your body with a little (not a lot) of sea salt from time to time. Natural unrefined salt can be good for the body in moderation!

Disclaimer: Those with health issues should always consult with their doctor before making dietary changes. Keep in mind that sea salts still do contain a substantial amount of sodium chloride and it should be used in moderation.


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    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @vespawoolf - wow, that sounds wonderful (30 cents for 2 pounds!). And I'll be by to check out your hub soon:)

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      We love sea salts! Here in Peru we have Andean pink sea salt. Similar to Himalayan, the iron content gives it the pink shade. It's mined deep in the Andes and if you buy it at the source, it only costs 30 cents for 2 pounds! Since it's so available here, that's our sea salt of choice although I love many of the varieties you mention. They really do add the perfect finish to many dishes. I wrote a hub on Andean pink a while back.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

      That is really interesting, Kris, chocolate and salt, together...who'd have thought it?? Will definitely have to give this salt a try... I had no idea they had samplers with different kinds either.. may have to get one of those. Thanks again for a great hub :)

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Jamie Brock - ironically just days after seeing them in the store and writing about the different types, there was a "Modern Marvels" episode on candy and chocolate and a short segment on a family run chocolate business that went to great lengths to "marry" sweet and salty taste of sea salt and chocolate and they researched all types of sea salt and found that of them all, grey sea salt compliments dark chocolate but not milk chocolate and a very particular type of smoked sea salt was instead better with the milk chocolate. Who would have thought...

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

      oh wow, I had no idea that there were so many sea salts..I keep hearing more and more about them.. they must be pretty good! Thank you for this very informative hub :)

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Thank you for all this good info, Kris. I have been using sea salt for some time now. I like the milder flavor, and now I know where to find an organic source! Voted Up, Useful and Interesting and Pinned

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Great hub Kris! I only use sea salt and I love it ^_^ I don't add salt to much but when I do I want it to be good. Plus its awesome that you can add less sea salt and still season very well. Voted up and pinned!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @chefsref - that's a great question! In my opinion, sports drinks are not really necessary for the average person. Most electrolytes can be readily obtained in a well balanced diet. The added coloring/dyes in those drinks are not that great for the body either. Some dyes have been on a watch list as suspected toxins/harmful ingredients.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Hey Kris

      Excellent and useful as usual. This raises another question in my mind and that is about electrolytes. Are these sports nutrition/electrolyte drinks really necessary? Gatorade was invented here at U Florida and the university made a bundle from it but I am skeptical of any supplement

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @fpherj48 - I'm so glad you found this useful! Thanks for your comments!

      @teaches12345 - I haven't tried the French Grey yet (I am currently using the Himalayan Pink™ Salt ) but I'm glad you've mentioned that the French Grey is considered one of the best. When I get a chance, I'll have to look more into the mineral contents of each. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      We have switched to using sea salt here in the home because of the reasons you stated here. It is much healthier. I have heard that the French Grey is the best out there to use. Glad to see you mention it here. Voted up and shared.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kris...You have educated me! Thank you. I had no idea there are so many types of sea salts. This is good news to me because I do try to stay away from table salts.....(far too conducive to fluid retention!) but quite honestly..."certain foods" without salt are just YUK! I can't do it!

      Thank you for this great and USEFUL hub.........UP+++

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @rebeccamealey - glad to hear you are switching! You're body will thank you for it:) I've noticed that some of the restaurants around here are starting to make note on menus if they have used sea salt rather than table salt.

      @mperrottet - I was also surprised by the variety. It's probably been no secret in the Eastern side of the world- I think those of us the Western world are starting to see more options now.

      @cclitgirl - I'm glad you learned something new (I did too!). Now I'm anxious to try some of the different ones!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      As I comment, I'm staring, smiling, at my container of coarse sea salt on my kitchen table. I knew it was better for you and that it wasn't so refined, but I didn't know all the health benefits associated with it. Thanks for sharing this. I learned something new! :)

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      My son had informed me that sea salt was much better for you, but I had no idea that you could get such a variety. Really interesting hub!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Wow, I didn't realize sea salt was so much better for you. I'm switching today! Voted awesome and useful, because too much salt can be so dangerous!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @carol777 and @Alecia - I was a bit surprised to see so many offered in our bulk food section at the co-op this week. I've known about the health value for awhile but had no idea how many different kinds there are and how varied the mineral content can be based on geography.

      @phdast7 - I'm glad the price is coming down too! And now that we can buy in bulk here, I'm looking forward to trying small amounts out a little of each for less than a $1 just to see how I like each!

    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 5 years ago from United States

      I learned something new. I didn't think that the difference between iodized salt and sea salt was significant before.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I didn't know how many varieties of sea salt available. I did know there were conflicting reports of how much health value it has but this hub is definitely helpful in seeing that it is better than regular salt. Great tips!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub. I switched over to Sea Salt about ten years ago and it was hard to find and quite expensive. Now it is as you pointed out readily available and the price has come down a great deal. Good to know that it is good for my heart and kidneys. Thanks. Sharing. ~~ Theresa

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I really enjoyed this hub as I didn't know all this about seasalt..I just figured it was a marketing gimic. I loved learning about the different types of seasalt and that it is healthier than others. Thanks for sharing all this great information. Voted UP.