4.02.2010

Sea Salt, Revisited


I got some questions after my post on salt last week, so I wanted to take the time to follow up with some answers. If you missed the post on salt, here’s the short version: unrefined sea salt contains all of the minerals and micronutrients of the sea – over 80 total! Refined sea salt contains only sodium and chloride – everything else is destroyed in the processing and refining of the salt. A diet that includes unrefined sea salt can help us maintain healthy levels of important minerals and supports a balanced body.
Below are some of your questions with my answers. I hope this helps clear things up!

Is there iodine in unrefined salt?
Unrefined salt does contain iodine, however not as much iodine as you’ll find in iodized salt. But, iodized salt contains so many other additives that are harmful to your health. The purpose of adding iodine to regular refined table salt is to promote thyroid health and prevent iodine deficiencies. However, some doctors believe that the amount of iodine in refined table salt isn’t enough to make a positive difference in thyroid health anyway. Not to mention all of the minerals and trace elements you are missing out on by not consuming unrefined salt. Iodine can also be obtained from foods like kelp, yogurt, milk, eggs and strawberries. Kelp is great for salads and soups – it has a nice salty taste and contains many important minerals from the sea. If you are concerned about your iodine levels, iodine supplementation is also an option. Signs of a possible iodine deficiency include fatigue, weakness, depression or weight gain.
Where do I find unrefined sea salt?

In Denver, I get my unrefined sea salt from one of our health food stores (Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, etc.). However, you can also find them at smaller specialty or gourmet food stores. Another option is to purchase your salt online. This is something I’ll probably start doing, because you can buy in bulk and save a lot of money. Some good websites include Celtic Sea Salt or SaltWorks.

Is all white salt really refined?
No, you can find white unrefined salt. When I wrote that while salt = refined salt, I should have been more clear. The white table salt you find absolutely everywhere, at every restaurant or fast food place, is refined. Most unrefined salts are not completely white but rather some shade of off-white, pink or gray. The really pure whiteness of refined salt is due to bleaching, so unrefined salt is generally not so white.

If it isn’t labeled as unrefined OR refined, what is it?
If I came across a salt that was unlabeled, I would assume it was refined and move on. Unrefined salt is considered a specialty food and companies that sell it take pride in the fact that they are providing customers with the highest quality salt available. Therefore, they are eager to let you know that their salt is unrefined, unprocessed and does not have any additives. Read the labels carefully and don’t hesitate to do some research yourself on the internet if you notice any strange ingredients or additives.

Do I need a salt grinder?
It’s up to you! You can purchase unrefined sea salt that is finely ground, coarsely ground, or in big chunks. Obviously the larger chunks will require a grinder. It might be fun to have both – use the pre-ground salt most nights and save the salt grinder for your dinner parties. I would certainly be impressed if I was at someone’s house and got to grind my own salt for my meal!! But, you do not need to buy a salt grinder in order to have good quality unrefined sea salt.

Some pretty cool salt grinders:
Left: Peugeot Salt Grinder, found here; Right: Alessi Marc Newson Gemini salt grinder, found here.

I hope this helps! Remember, eat salt in moderation but don’t cut it out completely. The minerals in salt help us absorb other important nutrients and stay healthy. If you are extremely active, it is even more important to include salt in your daily diet.

Have a great weekend guys!



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