Salt: The Importance of Consuming only Celtic or Himalayan Sea Salt
Although there has been some debate over the notion that salt is salt for those who need to stick to a low-sodium diet, the many benefits of a good sea salt for those who are healthy can’t be argued.
Overall, sodium is essential to the proper functioning of the body. In addition to numerous other reasons, sodium aids in keeping minerals soluble in the blood, stimulates the adrenal glands and plays a role in the balance of fluid and electrolytes. Unlike table salt, natural sea salts are a great source of sodium and contain many minerals and trace elements that aid in good health. It’s important to understand the difference between these two vastly different forms of salt when making food choices.
Commercial table salt is 99% sodium chloride. It has been processed and stripped of all of its minerals and nutrients naturally present in its organic form, utilizing high temperatures that chemically alter its structure. Salt as almost pure sodium chloride can be damaging to the body and contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, fluid imbalances, etc. Additionally, processed salt contains additives such as anti-caking agents, fluoride, potassium iodine (which was originally added to prevent thyroid problems and goiter) and even sugar. Some salt is even said to contain aluminum, which is then made white again through bleaching agents. You will find table salt of this nature in addition to other forms of sodium such as sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate and MSG in most packaged goods, which over time can and do contribute to numerous health problems.
However, there are two natural sea salts that many feel are safe and beneficial to good health even for those with hypertension caused by factors other than high sodium consumption*. They are Celtic sea salt and Himalayan sea salt. Before explaining the health benefits of these two varieties of full-spectrum sea salts, it’s important to first understand that not all sea salt is good. As people have become more aware of their health, the manufacturers of salt have taken advantage of the sea salt craze. However, many of the brands you see labeled as sea salt are no better than table salt.
What is important to understand is that all salt comes from the sea. However, salt that is heavily processed will be white whereas natural salt is either light gray colored (Celtic) or slightly pink (Himalayan). Good quality Celtic and Himalayan sea salts contain over 80 minerals that are difficult to find in today’s depleted soil. Sea salts such as these are said to normalize blood pressure, enhance digestion, improve the immune system, and nourish the adrenal glands without compromising on taste. Some research studies and MD’s even say that it’s more important to consume the right type of salt then to not consume any sodium at all and that there have even been recent studies connecting hypertension to low sodium diets.
With that said, excessive salt consumption, regardless of the type, is not good for anyone. Additionally, if you are concerned about Iodine (which is limited in natural sea salt), there are great organic supplements to take which can be extremely beneficial for hypothyroidism and weight loss. However, be aware that if you are consuming products containing table salt, you may already be ingesting an excessive amount of iodine, which can also negatively impact thyroid function. Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD states that "Excessive iodine intake (sometimes as little as 750 micro-grams daily) may inhibit the secretion of thyroid hormone and can produce a metallic taste and sores in the mouth, swollen salivary glands, diarrhea, and vomiting." Therefore it’s important to manage your iodine levels appropriately. As a side note, for those who prefer a natural solution as opposed to a supplement, Kelp is an excellent source of iodine and can be extremely beneficial to the thyroid function.
In summary, my recommendation would be to consume only pure Celtic and or Himalayan sea salt, eliminate products containing table salt, be conscious of the amount of salt you are consuming overall, and utilize Kelp or supplements if you are concerned about iodine levels.
*If you have hypertension and are unsure if salt is the culprit, you may want to consider a 3-month test without sodium and then have your blood pressure checked. If there is no change, most likely you are not "salt sensitive" and it would be beneficial to look for other contributory factors.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis a Balch CNC and James F Balch MD
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.