Today we are discussing about a natural condiment that has been used for thousands of years, a natural flavor enhancer that’s so vital to the world of cooking that without it, most food would taste bland! But just like many other wonderful things that have come under fire, this condiment has been characterized as an unhealthy substance that we should cut out of our diets in favor of our general health.
I’m referring to salt – a condiment that can be natural or artificial but enhances a specific flavor of many dishes! However, I’m not just referring to the usual table salt found in your cabinet, but sea salt!
So the common question arises – are sea salt and table salt the same? Read on to find out more!
Table of Content
- What Is Sea Salt
- Sea Salt vs Table Salt
- Texture of Sea Salt
- Favorite Sea Salt Recipe
- Health Benefits of Sea Salt
What Is Sea Salt
As the name suggests, sea salt is produced through evaporation of the ocean water or salty lake water, with little manufacturing or processing. This method is known as ‘Solar Evaporation’, where seawater is channeled into man-made pools along protected shores to be left under the sun till all water gets evaporated. This usually results in the retention of trace minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and many other nutrients. This is also the reason why sea salts are sometimes perceived as healthier than table salt.
Sea Salt vs Table Salt
That being said, you must be wondering: “Are sea salt and table salt the same?”
There’s definitely a difference between unrefined, mineral-rich sea salt and table salt that has been heavily processed and stripped of all of its natural ingredients!
Table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits. They are more heavily processed to eliminate minerals and usually contain an additive to prevent clumping. Most table salt also has added iodine, an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid.
With that said, many people believe that sea salt is healthier than table salt because it’s a natural source of sodium. Manufacturing or processing table salt strips it of important minerals such as magnesium, calcium, etc. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid table salt completely from your diet!
Because sodium is a very important mineral that you’d normally get from adding salt to your dish, I’d recommend getting your sodium from sea salt rather than from processed or packaged foods which may contain unnecessary additives or fats that could contribute to other health implications or even trigger leaky gut.
What is Texture of Sea Salt
Because sea salt experienced little to no processing, they are usually more coarse than their counterpart – table salt. They also have natural flavors and colors that make them a lot tastier and crunchier to use for cooking and for drinks.
Favorite Sea Salt Recipe
As sea salt plays a huge role in adding flavors to recipes as a natural condiment, it cannot be the main ingredient of recipes. Instead, here are some recipes that sea salt could help with by bringing out the flavors and tastes of the ingredients used:
- Pan-Seared Seabass with Salsa Verde
- Cajun-Style Chicken
- Plum with Cinnamon on Toast
Health Benefits of Sea Salt
The fact that sea salt has not gone through processing or manufacturing means it still retains many trace minerals that bring about many health benefits which table salt lacks!
Here are the nutritional benefits that sea salt offers:
- Loaded with Electrolytes
- Prevents Dehydration and Balances Fluids
- Rich in Trace Minerals
- Supports Digestive Health
- Promotes Nutrient Absorption
- Promotes Brain and Nervous System Function
1. Loaded With Electrolytes
The little processing of unrefined sea salt allows it to retain more of its natural mineral content. Sea salt itself contains many electrolytes, like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
These electrolytes are essential to good health and have so many important functions – from allowing your muscles to contract and relax to regulating your heartbeat so that severe health problems related to your heart conditions can be avoided. Consuming sea salt also can help in avoiding an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause all kinds of serious negative symptoms, including some which could be deadly.
2. Prevents Dehydration and Balances Fluids
Sodium constitutes most of the electrolytes that sea salt contains, which means sea salt has the ability to control your hydration and fluid levels!
Here’s how sodium works within your body: water follows salt, meaning if you were to increase your sodium intake too much, water retention also occurs. The opposite is also true: a loss in sodium results in a loss in water, potentially causing deadly symptoms like dehydration and extreme thirst.
By consuming enough sea salt each day, you also ensure that you are maintaining sufficient sodium levels, which helps balance your sodium-potassium ratios. Sodium and potassium are two electrolytes that work together hand-in-hand to ensure that there is proper fluid level balance in your body’s cells as well as blood plasma and extracellular fluid.
3. Rich in Trace Minerals
High-quality sea salts contain upwards of 60 trace minerals which means they are essentially a great source of micronutrients! (1)
It’s becoming harder and harder to obtain trace minerals from the foods we eat due to the lack of nutrients in the soil. However, we can still access trace minerals from our planet’s seas and oceans in the form of sea salts!
4. Supports Digestive Health
Did you know that not getting enough salt in your diet can also negatively affect your digestion? In fact, a lack of salt in the diet can lead to a reduction of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach. If you have low stomach acid, it can really mess up your digestive system, contributing to health issues like heartburn, stomach pain, constipation, and nutrient deficiencies. (2) Consuming the right amount of sea salt can help your body to produce enough amounts of HCL since sea salt provides chloride, which is one of the building blocks of stomach acid.
5. Promotes Nutrient Absorption
Since sea salt helps to increase and maintain the amount of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in our stomach, our bodies will be more equipped to absorb vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, folate, and vitamin B’s. Hence, consuming high-quality sea salt regularly can help your body absorb more nutrients from the foods that you eat. Remember, it’s never only about what you eat but how you digest and absorb the food and nutrients for your body’s daily requirements.
6. Promotes Brain and Nervous System Function
As a good source of sodium, sea salt is essential for proper brain and nervous system function. Not only does sodium play an important role in regulating your body’s fluid balance, it’s also required for the transmission of electrical signals in your body.
Why is this so important? Without this transmission of electrical signals in the body, your brain and nervous system are inclined to suffer. There has to be a balance in the sodium level of our cellular fluid – too much and too little sodium could cause cellular malfunction. Hence, as much as you hear about making sure you don’t get too much salt into your diet, it’s just as important to make sure we get sufficient sodium from consuming sea salt!
Side Effects of Consuming Too Much Sea Salt
Even though sea salt boasts some serious health benefits, you don’t want to overdo it! If your diet is too high in sodium, then more water is excreted by your kidneys, which can cause complications like electrolytes imbalance. Symptoms of having too much sodium in your body include bloating, dehydration, and muscle twitching.
Hypernatremia occurs when there’s an imbalance of sodium and water in your body, caused by having more sodium in your blood than usual. Symptoms of hypernatremia include thirst, headache, irritability, and restlessness.
If you’re cutting table salt from your diet altogether, do ensure you’re getting your iodine from other food sources. Besides iodized salt, there are also other iodine food sources, such as seaweed, dairy products, seafood, and eggs. If you don’t consume any of these foods regularly, then adding iodized sea salt into your cooking or recipes may be a good option to make sure that you’re meeting your daily needs for this key mineral.
Now we all know salt is important to your body and in cooking, especially sea salt which provides numerous health benefits such as providing trace minerals and electrolytes, preventing dehydration, and increasing hydrochloric acid in your stomach for better nutrient absorption.
Salt, in general also plays a huge role as a flavoring agent or as food seasoning which intensifies aromas, balances out flavors, and makes meat taste juicier.
There are also differences between sea salt and table salt. Therefore, pick the right type of salt that suits your own needs: iodized table salt for someone who is deficient in trace mineral iodine and sea salt for someone who’s looking to increase their trace minerals intake.
So, what do you think? Will you be making the switch from usual table salt to sea salt? Let me know in the comments down below and do share this content if you enjoy it!