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Experts Explain Varieties Of Salt Healthier Than Table Salt

Salt is common in kitchens, but its consumption has been controversial in the medical sector. While salt is vital to the proper operation of the body, too much of it can lead to health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. That is why, nowadays many individuals are opting for alternative ones like pink salt and black salt as they believe them to be healthier. But, is that true?

To answer this question, ABP Live sought the opinion of experts who clarified certain myths prevailing around salt. But, before that, let us know what are the different types of salt:

Differences Between Table Salt, Sea Salt And Rock Salt:

Dr. Santosh Pandey, who is an Acupuncturist and Naturopath at Rejua Energy Center, Mumbai said that the primary differences between table salt, sea salt, and rock salt lie in their sources, processing, and mineral content.

Table Salt: Mined from underground salt deposits or extracted from seawater.

    • Health Consideration: While iodine is an essential nutrient, excessive consumption of refined table salt may contribute to health issues such as hypertension. It’s often recommended to use iodized salt to prevent iodine deficiency.

Sea Salt: Evaporated from seawater.

    • Health Consideration: While sea salt does offer some additional minerals, the quantities are generally too small to impact overall nutrition significantly. It’s still a sodium source, and excessive intake should be avoided.

Rock Salt (Himalayan Salt): Mined from ancient salt deposits, often in regions like the Himalayas.

    • Health Consideration: Some claim health benefits due to the trace minerals, but the amounts are minimal. The distinctive pink colour is appealing, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to significant health advantages over other salts.

Suvidhi Jain, who is a Lifestyle, Exercise and Nutrition Coach and founder of LEAN by Suvidhi mentioned the mineral content in the three varieties saying that the rich mineral composition of rock salt includes zinc, copper, iron, manganese, potassium, and calcium; while trace amounts of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and potassium contribute to sea salt’s nutritional profile.

Talking about table salt, Suvishi said, “Widespread in households, table salt undergoes extensive processing, involving refining and the addition of anti-caking agents. While this process eliminates impurities, it also strips away many naturally occurring minerals. As a result, table salt is often considered less nutritionally rich compared to its unprocessed counterparts.”

“Both rock salt and sea salt offer a slightly higher mineral content compared to table salt. While these minerals contribute to the overall nutritional profile, it’s crucial to recognise that the quantities are relatively modest. Depending on salt as a primary source of these minerals is not recommended,” she added.

Talking about the sodium content, Suvishi said, “Despite the mineral differences, all three salt varieties are predominantly composed of sodium chloride. Excessive sodium intake is associated with health issues such as high blood pressure and electrolyte imbalance. While some argue that additional minerals in rock and sea salt may offer marginal health benefits, moderation remains paramount to prevent adverse effects.”

“Whether rock salt, sea salt, or table salt, moderation is the guiding principle. The impact on health is more about overall sodium intake than the specific type of salt consumed,” she added.

What About Pink Salt And Black Salt?

Talking about these varieties, Dietician Umang Malhotra said, “While pink and black salts do contain minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium in small quantities, the differences in composition and potential health benefits are still being discussed. The colour of pink salt is derived from minerals like iron oxide that are trace. However, the concentrations of these minerals are low in comparison to the concentrations that need to have a significant impact on health. Black salt is associated with a distinct taste, it’s also rich in minerals like iron and sulphur, but it lacks the necessary health benefits for a significant amount of these nutrients.”

Are They Better Than Table Salt?

In this regard, Umang said, “Despite the different mineral composition, all of these salts are primarily composed of sodium chloride. The primary issue is the sodium component, which is primarily consistent regarding salt type. Consuming these substitutes in excess could have the same health risks as regular table salt because of their sodium content. The secret is in taking care of your overall sodium intake, which is derived from all sources. Maintaining a diet that is both healthy and balanced with limited sodium is still important for the overall health of a person. As a result, the focus is still on maintaining health while also eating in a moderate and balanced manner. Therefore it is advised to use iodized salt in moderation.”

Other Myths Around Salt:

Garima Dev Verman, who is a Certified Nutritionist and Medical Content Analyst with The Healthy Indian Project (THIP) – A Health Literacy Platform said the following:

Myth 1: Sendha namak/kala namak is always a healthier option

It’s a myth that Sendha Namak (rock salt) or Kala Namak (black salt) is always a healthier option. Continuous consumption of these salts can lead to iodine deficiency and may even contribute to thyroid problems. Unlike iodized salt, which is fortified with iodine to support thyroid health, these salts may lack this essential micronutrient. Relying solely on Sendha Namak or Kala Namak without considering iodine intake from other sources can have adverse effects on thyroid function. It’s crucial to maintain a balanced approach to salt consumption and ensure adequate iodine intake for overall well-being. 

Myth 2: Low-sodium salts are always healthy

The idea that low-sodium salts are always healthy needs careful consideration. Many brands offer low-sodium salts, often a blend of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. While these salts can be beneficial for individuals aiming to reduce sodium intake, prolonged and excessive usage may contribute to kidney disorders. It’s important to use these salts in moderation and be mindful of potential side effects. 

Myth 3: Iodized salt is unhealthy

The idea that iodized salt is unhealthy is a myth. Iodine is a vital micronutrient crucial for thyroid function and overall health. Iodized salt serves as a practical means to prevent iodine deficiency disorders. While excessive salt consumption should be avoided, demonising iodized salt without considering its essential role in preventing health issues is not accurate. Moderation is key to reaping the benefits of iodine without compromising overall health. 

Myth 4: Salt causes high blood pressure in everyone

The thinking that salt causes high blood pressure in everyone is inaccurate. While excessive salt intake can contribute to hypertension in some individuals, not everyone is equally sensitive to sodium. Genetic factors, overall diet, and lifestyle play roles in blood pressure regulation. It’s crucial to moderate salt consumption and consider individual health conditions. Blanket statements about salt universally causing high blood pressure to oversimplify a complex relationship between diet and cardiovascular health. 

Myth 5: You can tell when a food is salty because it tastes salty

The belief that the taste of salt directly corresponds to its presence in food is a common misconception. While some salty foods are easily recognisable by their taste, many processed foods, such as breakfast cereals, bread, jarred sauces, and biscuits, may have high salt content without exhibiting an overly salty flavour. This hidden salt can contribute to increased sodium intake, emphasizing the importance of reading nutrition labels and being mindful of the diverse sources of salt in our diets