Just as not all sugars are the same, neither are all salts. The dangers of excessive salt intake – high blood pressure, heart trouble, reduced kidney function – have led to many cutting back enormously on salt. But you can still get the flavor enhancement that salt brings – as well as a host of added nutrients – by simply switching up the types of salt you use.
Of course, that’s where things get tricky: with all the designer salts out there, which one should you choose?
Here are three of our favorite types of salt to get you started.
1. Naturally Dried Sea Salt
A major key to keeping salt healthy is keeping it as natural as possible. Salt made the from natural evaporation of seawater retains an enormous amount of trace minerals, as opposed to table salt, which loses many of its minerals during the refining process.
The main issue with unrefined sea salt is in making sure that it comes from an uncontaminated source. For this reason, we like Pacific Sea Salt, which is harvested from the oceans of New Zealand. With one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world and great importance placed on keeping local waters clean, New Zealand is a great choice for this salt.
New Zealand also boasts a its long history of salt mining, according to according to David Noll, founder & CEO of Pacific Resources International.
“In the early days, there were no pumps to pump the seawater, so areas for drying had to be lower than sea level,” says Noll. “Today, the same salt fields are still serving up the cleanest naturally dried sea salt in the world.”
The use of traditional processes like solar and wind energy to dry the salt means that not only is this salt healthy, it's also energy efficient.
The final salt has a clean, salty flavor and a slight sweetness to it, perfect for everyday seasoning.
2. Pink Himalayan Salt
Pink Himalayan salt is one of the most popular “designer” salts today. It is a type of rock salt mined from deep within ancient salt beds in the Himalayan Mountains. Because of the age of these salt beds, they do not have the same risk of contamination as other mined salts.
Claims that Himalayan salt was the only salt out there with health benefits have since been debunked by several different studies. That said, Himalayan salt is just as good an option as sea salt for minerals and trace elements, and it has the added bonus of its color.
Himalayan salt has become a favorite in foodie circles due to its naturally pink color -- due to the presence of oxide -- and to its large crystal form, meaning that it can actually be used as a cooking surface as well as a simple seasoning. Use this salt on dishes where its color will shine.
Himalayan pink salt has been attributed with improving your body's pH balance and nutrient absorption, due to its containing up to 84 different minerals and trace elements. But some experts say that the composition of Himalayan pink salt and sea salt is comparable; there isn't necessarily one that's better between the two. All you need to do is choose one.
3. Black Lava Salt
Hawaiian black lava salt is yet another salt with a shocking color, this time hailing from the remnants of activated charcoal from volcanoes. This gives the salt added flavor and complexity, not to mention color.
At its origins, however, this salt is a Hawaiian sea salt; traditional Hawaiian salt is tinted red with clay, offering yet another option with a shocking color and uniquely earthy flavor, distinct from the smokiness of the charcoal.
But the activated charcoal has an additional benefit aside from added flavor: charcoal helps to cleanse the body and enhanced digestive health. Some experts use charcoal as part of a cleanse; by adding it to your salt, you can reap the benefits with every pinch you sprinkle over a dish.
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Himalayan salt image via Shutterstock