Salt has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. Yet, in the last few decades, it has been made into a villain of sorts as it is associated with high blood pressure and heart ailments.
However, this doesn’t mean that we cut out salt from our diet completely. Not getting enough salt in the body can also lead to problems like muscle cramps, headaches, weakness and cognitive decline in the elderly.
You can opt for natural, unrefined salts like Celtic sea salt and Himalayan salt that have many health-promoting qualities. These salts are rich in minerals and also help you stay hydrated.
Let us learn more about sea salts and their health benefits.
What is the sea salt?
Sea salt comes from the ocean and undergoes an evaporation process to separate the salt from the water. Depending on the source of the water, this leaves behind certain trace minerals and elements.
These minerals add specific color and flavor to the salt. Sea salts also contain a small amount of natural iodine. It is much less refined than table salt and has many potential health benefits.
Types of sea salt
There are many different kinds of sea salts available these days. They differ in their taste, texture and health benefits depending on where they originate from. Here are some commonly available varieties of sea salt:
1. Pink Himalayan sea salt
Himalayan sea salt is considered to be the purest form of salt available. This pink salt is derived from ancient sea salt deposits.
It comes from the Khewra salt mine, the largest salt mine in the world. Iron oxide gives this salt its characteristic pink color. It also contains some amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
2. Maldon English sea salt
This salt comes from Essex in South-eastern England. Maldon sea salt comes from the Blackwater Estuary. This unique water body combines the fresh water that comes from the Blackwater River and the salt water coming from the Black Sea.
This sea salt is known for its pyramid-shaped, soft, and flaky crystals and white color. A family run business has harvested it since 1882. This quick-dissolving crunchy salt contains lower trace elements as compared to other sea salts.
3. Celtic sea salt
Celtic sea salt has a greyish color which comes from the clay where it is harvested. It is rand-raked in Brittany, France using a 2000-year-old Celtic method. This salt also contains a bit of water, which makes it moist.
Celtic salt contains trace amounts of minerals, and it is lower in sodium than table salt. This salt is considered excellent for seasoning meats and vegetables.
It is also considered extremely beneficial for health. Celtic salt helps to restore electrolyte balance, has alkalizing properties and can prevent muscle cramps.
4. Fleur De Sel
Fleur De Sel or flowers of the sea is collected from Brittany’s sea water that becomes trapped in the medieval salt marshes of Guerrange, whose sandy bottoms lend them their grey color.
This salt forms a thin, fragile layer on the saltwater surface as it evaporates. Its patterns of crystals resemble flowers.
This flaky salt has a delicate flavor and texture, and you can use it for finishing foods.
5. Hawaiian Sea salt
Two unique types of salts come from Hawaii. They come from the waters of the Pacific ocean, but they take their attributes from the different geographical phenomenon.
The Hawaiian black lava salt gets its black color and smokiness from the charcoal in lava pits. It is excellent for digestion and for removing impurities from the body.
The Hawaiian Alaea sea salt gets its red color from the natural red volcanic clay that enriches the salt with iron oxide. Real Hawaiian salt is expensive and hard to find outside of Hawaii.
6. Italian sea salt
This salt is derived from the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Sicily. This unrefined salt is rich in flavor and minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Benefits of sea salt
Sea salt is highly beneficial for the body as it provides the body the nutrients that are lacking from the modern diet.
1. Excellent source of trace minerals
Improper farming methods have depleted our soils of its mineral content, which is the reason why we can not obtain trace mineral from the food we eat.
However, we can easily supplement with sea salt and replenish these easily absorbable minerals. Most sea salts contain up to 60 trace minerals. The Himalayan sea salt contains 84 minerals.
2. Keeps you hydrated
Sea salt is hugely beneficial in keeping you hydrated. The body needs a balance of sodium and potassium to stay hydrated. When we increase our intake of sodium, water retention occurs in the body.
Lack of sodium can lead to dehydration on the other hand.
Consuming sea salt in moderation helps you in maintaining sufficient sodium levels, which also helps to balance your sodium-potassium ratios.
3. Maintains electrolyte balance
Electrolytes have many essential functions in the body. They help to regulate heartbeat, keep optimum blood composition, and also help in muscle contraction.
An electrolyte imbalance in the body can lead to many harmful effects that can lead to deadly consequences (1).
Sea salt contains many of the essential electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium that are essential for maintaining an electrolytic equilibrium of the body.
4. Supports a healthy nervous system
Sodium regulates our body’s fluid balance, which is critical for a robust nervous system. Sodium is needed for the transmission of electrical signals in the body.
Without the proper transmission of electrical signals our brain, muscles and nervous system can get affected. Sea salt is much better than regular table salt as it provides the correct balance of sodium and other electrolytes.
5. Prevents muscle cramps
When the electrolyte levels are low in the body, it can lead to muscle soreness, cramps, charley horse and restless leg syndrome. Lack of minerals prevent the muscles from relaxing and can cause muscle contractions.
Sea salt is a good source of electrolytes, which is known to prevent muscle fatigue and cramping during exercise.
So, if you are participating in a strenuous activity, add some sea salt to your water to replenish your body with minerals that it loses.
6. Encourages restful sleep
Sea salt improves sleep as it contains many electrolytes that help in regulating hormones. Sea salt also makes you less thirsty, hungry and more satisfied when you eat.
Sea salt baths are known to have a calming effect, which helps in inducing a more restful sleep. They also prevent excess salivation from the mouth during sleep.
7. Improves digestion
Sea salt plays a vital role in promoting digestive health. The flavor of salt activates the salivary amylase, an enzyme that helps break down carbohydrates in the saliva.
Salt is also essential for making hydrochloric acid, which is secreted in the stomach for the breakdown for food.
If you have low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, it can cause digestive issues like bloating, gas, heartburn, indigestion and even leaky gut syndrome (2).
8. Improves nutrient absorption
Sea salt helps the body produce stomach acid which aids in the absorption of minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and folate.
So you must add the appropriate amount of sea salt in your diet to help your body absorb more nutrients from the food that you eat.
9. Skin care
Sea salt is rich in mineral content, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it beneficial for skin health.
Many beauty products use sea salt as it helps to nourish and detoxify the skin. It also helps in skin exfoliation as it helps remove dead skin particles, and encourages blood circulation and skin renewal.
Sea salt is especially helpful in treating acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
10. Promotes dental health
Sea salt contains beneficial minerals like fluoride, which are essential for dental health. Fluoride protects the teeth from acidic damage and prevents the development of cavities.
Gargling with tepid sea salt water also helps in treating sores, bleeding gums, ulcers, and sore throat.
What is the difference between sea salt and table salt?
Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water or water from saltwater lakes. This process involves very little processing, which helps in retaining trace minerals and elements.
The minerals provide beneficial properties to this salt. They also add unique flavor and color to sea salt.
Table salt, on the other hand, is usually mined from underground salt deposits. This salt is heavily processed to prevent clumping, and this also eliminates any minerals.
Table salt also contains added iodine which is essential to maintaining a healthy thyroid.
Sea salt precautions
Sea salt is a significant source of sodium so you should not consume too much of it. Doctors recommended that you limit your intake of sodium to 2,300 milligrams or less.
Excessive intake of sodium in the diet can lead to bloating, lethargy, dehydration, weakness and muscle twitching.
If you have decided to switch from table salt to sea salt completely, you must find other sources of iodine. Iodine occurs naturally in seaweed, seafood, dairy products, and eggs.
Sea salt is produced through evaporation of the ocean water or the water from saltwater lakes. This salt is considered healthier than table salt as it is less refined and it contains various trace minerals.
There are numerous different types of sea salt available like Himalayan pink sea salt, Celtic sea salt, Maldon English sea salt, Fleur De Sel, and Hawaiian Sea salt. Sea salt is a good source of trace minerals, supports the healthy nervous system, prevents dehydration and improves skin and oral health.
So, use sea salt in place of regular salt in your recipes and enjoy its health benefits.