Similar to the varieties of sugar, there are many different types of salt which can be used for the addition of flavor and texture enhancement of meals. And similar to how coconut sugar is claimed as the better counterpart of the commonly used granulated sugar, the gourmet salt is often touted as the healthier counterpart of the common table salt.This articles focuses on this claim and works out the intricacies involved in this debate.
A salt is a mineral which is composed of sodium chloride, which is basically made of two essential nutrients. Sodium is the chief ion which is used in the maintenance of the fluid volume on the exterior of the cells within the body, which helps in fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Further, Sodium also aids in maintaining blood pressure, balance of acid-base concentration, contraction of muscles, transmission through nerves, among others. These are all very significant and important biological functions.
However, the excess intake of sodium has also been directly linked to high blood pressure, heart failure, stomach cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, and kidney disease. Therefore, the minimum line is that sodium is necessary but excessive consumption can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Further, the popularly consumed processed foods are generally not nutritious when compared to whole foods, which makes consumers miss out on the key nutrients of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which are not only essential but also required to counter the effects of sodium.
Table salt or iodized salt is fortified with iodine, which is beneficial for thyroid function. Apart from salt, the other sources of iodine include yogurt, milk, cod, and seaweed. Iodized salt is also a processed food and does not entirely consist of sodium chloride. There are a lot of anti-caking and flow agents added to it.
Sea salt, Himalayan crystal and the Kosher salt, are the other types of salt which have been claimed as healthy, mostly due to their claim of higher content of minerals in comparison to table salt. Despite the above, their mineral content is not enough to make these specialized salts healthy. Further, a major portion of the sodium that people eat already comes from processed food, which tends to capture more than 70 percent of the sodium requirement.
Gourmet salts, however, have large crystals, which means that there is less content of sodium per teaspoon and they can be used less. The additional benefits of this salt are the added flavor and texture. Gourmet salt contains lesser sodium as it has been replaced by potassium, which makes it a better alternative for consumers looking to cut down the sodium content in their diets. However, they must not be used in combination with medications which might cause the body to hold on to potassium as overdoing it might interfere with muscle function, in which potassium plays a key role.
In the current scenario, wherein unknown amounts of minerals are consumed through processed food, it might actually seem outrageous to focus on a particular type of salt. However, if a person is conscious of the amount of mineral consumed, gourmet salt offers a lucrative alternative to the conventional table salts, as all the common salt does is to further the sodium content. Gourmet salt, on the other hand, offers the benefits of the consumption of other minerals such as potassium, which also helps in regulating the activity of sodium in the body. Further, greater attention needs to be paid on the flavor provided by the salt and not only on its health benefits. A good rule of thumb is to maintain consumption in moderation!