Is gourmet salt healthier than table salt

Are gourmet salts healthier than table salt?

Pawel Malczewski
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Short summary

Gourmet salts such as Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt are not healthier than table salt. Each type of salt is basically a source of sodium and chloride. The other trace elements whether minerals or toxic metals, occur in gourmet salts in insignificant amounts.  This is also true for added aluminium in the table salt. For a quick answer click here.

Explanation

The clever marketing by Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt manufacturers makes sea salt sound almost like a super-food. Claims about the high mineral content in sea salt and the aluminium contents in table salt are the main arguments to sell Himalayan and other gourmet salt products, at exuberant prices.

However, after performing some realistic calculations, we can conclude that there is strong evidence that gourmet salt,  like table salt, consists mostly of sodium and chloride and the rest (known as trace minerals) in insignificant amounts so as to be relevant.

Therefore, salt should be considered merely as a source of sodium and chloride and not a source of any other mineral.

To see why gourmet salt health claims are misleading,  the following points will be considered:

  1. The daily salt intake statistics
  2. The recommended salt intake
  3. The amount of trace minerals in gourmet salts
  4. The amount of harmful minerals in gourmet salts
  5. The amount of aluminium in table salt
  6. The amount of iodine in table salt

The following are the points discussed in detail.

  1. The daily salt intake statistics. The amount of salt we consume on average per day is 8,500 mg. Of that amount, only 13% comes from salt used in cooking and to sprinkle at the table. The rest comes from processed goods or naturally occurs in the whole foods. This represents about 1g (1.1g) of salt on average per day that we add to our foods. (read more..)
  2. The recommended salt intake. The amount of salt we should consume on average per day is not clear, due to conflicting studies. (read more..). More research is needed.

    It is up to each individual to decide if they trust the current mainstream guidelines or the studies that claim otherwise. The mainstream recommendation suggests consuming not more than 2,300mg of sodium and aims at less than 1,500mg per day. The conflicting studies claim that between 2,600mg to 5,000mg of sodium per day is the healthy range.

    The most sensible approach, in my opinion, is to reduce the intake of processed foods to a minimum. This is where the majority of sodium comes from. It is recommended that you use salt when needed.

    Your body will tell you if you need more or not.

  3. The amount of trace minerals in gourmet salts. While table salt is stripped of most trace elements, the amount of trace minerals in gourmet salts is insignificant in relation to the recommended dietary allowance and to what is ingested from a variety of foods during the day. Health claims for the gourmet salts are exaggerated and misleading. (read more..)
  4. The amount of harmful minerals in gourmet salts. The amount of harmful substances (toxic elements) in gourmet salts such as Himalayan pink salt is irrelevant to our health. The quantity of toxic elements in gourmet salts is considerably below their maximum tolerable level. (read more..)
  5. The amount of aluminium in table salt. The amount of aluminium in table salt is insignificant compared to the maximum tolerable limit and to the total aluminium we get from our diet. (read more..)
  6. The amount of iodine in table salt. Iodine in significant amounts occurs in some table salt, where it is added as an additive in regions or countries with iodine-deficient soils. (read more..)
    The only reason that one type of salt can be more beneficial than others is when you belong to the iodine deficiency risk group and you need Iodized table salt in your diet. (read more..)

Conclusion

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For the quantity of salt we consume on average per day, within the permissible range of sodium intake, the amounts of trace minerals, toxic minerals in gourmet salts and aluminium levels in table salts are insignificant to our health.

These elements would only make a difference if we were to consume salt in levels at which sodium would cause health complications. In this circumstance, the negative effects of sodium consumption would override any benefits from the trace minerals and any harm from the toxic elements.

There are more efficient ways to get the nutrients we need (from several nutrient dense foods) than to rely on salt as a source of trace nutrients.

The only advantage of choosing a specific type of salt in terms of health is when you are in the iodine deficiency risk group and you opt for iodized salt.

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