Summary Table salt is made from two minerals, chloride and sodium, that are required for human existence. However, too much salt intake has been shown to increase blood pressure, though there is little direct evidence that reducing salt intake will actually improve health. The three major varieties of kosher salt are table salt, sea salt, and rock salt. The three types of salt differ mainly in the method of preparation, although they all have the mineral sodium and/or chloride.
Rock salt is obtained by breaking down naturally occurring rock salt and then processing it further to remove the impurities. This highly processed type of salt is highly refined and contains no more than one-eighth of a teaspoon of each mineral. The other types of table salt are highly processed as well, using hydrolyzed seawater, wood ash, or chemical methods to obtain the minerals. These products are commonly used to make cookware and to add flavor to baked goods.
High blood pressure is affected negatively by the amount of sodium in the diet. High blood pressure can also be influenced by the type of salt that is eaten. For instance, it has been found that eating highly processed sea salt has been correlated with higher blood pressure readings. Similarly, eating heavily processed table salt has been correlated with a higher blood pressure reading. While scientists have not concluded definitively that one causes the other, it seems like dietary sodium may play a role in the development of high blood pressure.
Sea salt is considered to be the cleanest natural source of table salt, as it is obtained directly from the sea. There are no significant amounts of contaminants such as heavy metals or other pollutants that could be found in mined salts. Therefore, the mining of this salt deposit in the Pacific Ocean is considered to be the cleanest form available. Unfortunately, much of the world's table salt comes from heavily processed and refined forms mined from the sea.
Unrefined table salt can still contain a variety of pollutants such as lead, arsenic, chlorine, mercury, cysts, bacteria, pesticides, and other harmful substances. However, the most common pollutants in unrefined kosher salt are mercury, lead, and pesticides. It is extremely important to purchase kosher salt only from trusted suppliers who source their salt from strictly controlled environmental conditions, such as the ocean or mountaintops. In the past, the mining of these types of salt deposits was the most expensive and the most dangerous.
Evaporating seawater is a very efficient means of making sea salt. The method involves collecting sodium chloride and mixing it with water until the solution turns into sodium chloride vapor. Since the concentration of sodium chloride in the seawater is low, this type of salt is cheaper than heavily processed table salt, making it an environmentally friendly option.
There is also a downside to evaporating seawater for table salt, namely the possibility of iodine deficiency. This issue is highly debated, but many scientists agree that ingesting too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism and cancer. Fortunately, the amount needed to attain hypothyroidism or cancer is small and unlikely to cause harm.
It is important to note that there are many benefits of adding sea salt to your diet. Unrefined sea salt crystals contain a host of beneficial minerals and vitamins, as well as trace elements like manganese, which have been proven beneficial for improving thyroid health and reducing the risk of colon cancer. These benefits make it an ideal addition to any healthy diet, whether you are trying to lose weight or try to maintain healthy body weight. So, next time you go shopping for table salt, consider the benefits of naturally produced Himalayan salt crystals.