This fantastic article was written by Joshua Graham, CNP, FRCms, CF-L2, who is a fitness trainer, Holistic Nutritionist, and owner of Cocoon Health & Fitness. You can find out more about Cocoon Health by checking out their website and following them on Facebook and Instagram.
Salt sodium (Na) chloride (Cl) is a villain in the nutrition world but are all types of salt made equal and is it truly as bad as we have been led to believe?
The difference between table salt, pink salt and sea salt
The most common types of salt that are found in the marketplace today are table salt, sea salt, and pink Himalayan salt. They are all slightly different to one another in terms of how they are found and processed. The best option among them is pink Himalayan salt and in my opinion also tastes the best.
Table Salt: Is salt that has been highly refined and processed in order for it to get its pure white look and fine texture. In order for this to happen the salt is heated and bleached, it can therefore have some traces of these chemicals in it which is not optimal for our health.
The name gives it away but sea salt comes from the sea and is a better option than table salt, however, a study has revealed something potentially troublesome about sea salt: that it is contaminated with plastic. Massive amounts of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, and eventually, it starts to break apart and tiny pieces of plastic now permeate our oceans.
After testing 17 different commercial sea salt brands from different countries 16 of them came back positive for plastic residues. Plastics can have adverse effects on our hormonal system including having estrogenic effects. But before you start throwing out your sea salt, keep in mind that the authors of the study concluded that the levels of plastic at this time are too low to have a harmful impact on us. But it is certainly something to watch out for in the future.
Pink Himalayan Salt: Comes from the Himalayas and has a distinctively beautiful pink color to it. Pink Himalayan salt contains over 80 trace minerals in it which can help to promote health. Since it comes from the Himalayas it has been untainted by human industry meaning it is free of the plastics we find in sea salt.
Is salt good or bad?
Salt is delicious; it makes food taste better and that salty flavor can be addictive. This is why fast food and junk food are extremely high in salt, in order to draw us back in for another serving or to buy it again. For example, a McDonald’s cheese burger has 700mg of sodium.
However, sodium in itself is not bad as it is necessary for our survival. There are many recommendations out there to eat a minimal amount of salt in order to preserve health, however minimizing salt intake has been shown to increase the risk of death from a cardiovascular event and too much salt increased the risk of all types of cardiovascular events, including higher blood pressure. Therefore, we need to be eating the right amount not simply avoiding salt.
The sweet spot for sodium consumption appears around 4000 mg of sodium per day (about 2 teaspoons), this was shown to have the best effect on health. If you’re working out frequently and taxing yourself it is extremely important to get enough sodium as too little sodium consumption can lead to overtraining like symptoms and decrease performance.
Ways to use Pink Himalayan Salt:
My favorite way to use pink Himalayan salt is to sprinkle some on veggies before I roast them to help bring out flavors or onto a vegetable filled salad. A lot of my recipes use pink Himalayan salt due to the amazing flavor it helps to bring out just like in my perfect guacamole.
I also like to sprinkle some pink Himalayan salt into my water bottle to help replenish lost electrolytes after an intense workout. If I feel very drained or have lost a lot of fluids, having a sprinkle of salt in my water helps revitalize me.
Salt is not bad for our health if we are eating the right amount of it, which is the key. Avoiding processed foods is the best way to prevent the over consumption of sodium. Focus on eating whole foods that are high in potassium (this helps balance out sodium!) and other vitamins and minerals. When you are adding salt to food the best option in my opinion is pink Himalayan Salt; not only is it beautiful but it has the most health benefits and least contamination.
Ali Karami, et al. The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries. Scientific Reports. Article 46173. Published April 6th, 2017.
Chun Z. Yang, et al. Most Plastic Products Release Estrogenic Chemicals: A Potential Health Problem that Can be Solved. Environmental Health Perspectives. Jun 2011; 119 (7): 989-996.
National University of Ireland, Galway. (2011, November 23). Study calls sodium intake guidelines into question. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 6, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111123132935.htm
MC, Blank, et al. Total body Na(+)-depletion without hpoatraemia can trigger overtraining-like symptoms with sleep disorders and increasing blood pressure: explorative case and literature study. Medical Hypothesis. Dec 2012; 79(6): 799-804.