Chew on This

Oh, the many crazy claims about salt

There are many crazy claims being made about salt, Sheah Rarback says.
There are many crazy claims being made about salt, Sheah Rarback says.

It’s time to talk salt.

My head was spinning after a recent salt-buying trek. It was not only the many choices but the insane claims.

First the basics: Common salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. About 25% of salt comes from the evaporation of sea water. The rest is from underground salt deposits. Salt deposits formed as horizontal salt beds in ancient oceans and were then buried beneath sediments as mountains eroded.

I saw salts with a non-GMO label. To be GMO, you have to have genes to modify and as a mineral, salt has none. Saying non-GMO salt is like saying shoeless butterflies. It’s nonsensical.

This label is only meant to confuse shoppers and increase sales.

The second crazy was when salt is promoted as ancient. There is no new salt — it all comes from an ancient source. And usually ancient isn’t a selling point for food products.

Some salts, like Pink Himalayan brag about their mineral content. Yes, it has some iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and 80 other elements. But you would have to eat a lot of it for a nutritional impact.

Full disclosure: I often use Himalayan salt because I enjoy the flavor but never thought I was doing it for health. Table salt is usually mined underground and is heavily processed to eliminate minerals and create a fine grain. It has additives to prevent clumping as well as added iodine.

Kosher salt, Himalayan pink salt, Celtic salt, Hawaiian black and other exotics salts are less refined and have a coarser grain. Because of the smaller crystal size, a teaspoon of table salt contains more sodium than a teaspoon of the larger crystal salt.

Table salt is probably best for baking or salting water. The coarser blends, with their subtle flavor differences are great for cooking and finishing a dish. And if you build your strong nutritional nest egg with lots of high potassium foods flavoring with salt should not a problem.

Sheah Rarback MS, RDN is a registered dietitian on faculty at the Miller School of Medicine.

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