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Natural sea salt vs table salt

The difference between natural sea salt vs table salt is one of the most important things to know when one wishes to eat in a healthy way. The difference is great. One is healthy, the other is harmful.

If you make just this one simple switch - to natural sea salt vs table salt - your health will improve. In particular, if you suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure, there is good chance that your blood pressure will drop to normal, or close to normal levels.

Before I discuss further, I should mention that I use the term "table salt" loosely here. Table salt is salt sold in salt shakers, ready for use at the table. It usually contains chemical additives, such as anti-caking agents to prevent the salt from lumping together so that it flows smoothly.

For the purpose of this article, I use the term to also describe regular salt, also known as common salt or simply as salt. The most accurate description would be "refined salt" - because it is a refined, purified product, just as white sugar is refined sugar.

Many health conscious people know about the harm of taking refined sugar, yet few even think about any possible harm from tajking refined salt.

Many do not know there is a difference. They simply assume that all salt comes from the sea and that all are equal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let's look at some of the major differences...

Sea salt vs table salt - nutrition

Once, I read an article written by a nutritionist who declared that the difference between natural sea salt vs table salt is just "dirt". Accoring to this nutrition "expert", refined salt or table salt contains sodium chloride while natural sea salt contains sodium chloride "plus some dirt".

This is an extremely narrow - and ignorant - viewpoint. Unfortunately, even esteemed health institutions like the US-based Mayo Clinic tell us that there is not much difference between the chemical composition of natural sea salt vs table salt. They say the diference is merely in taste and flavor. Is it?

The real difference between natural sea salt vs table salt and refined salt is this:

Natural sea salt 95% sodium chloride
4% potassium chloride
1% other mineral salts (50 to 80 minerals)
Refined salt 99.9% sodium chloride
Table salt 97.5% sodium chloride
2.5% anti-caking agents

It is true that, apart from potassium, the other minerals in natural sea salt are present in only very tiny amounts. But nutritionists, of all people, should know better - that tiny amounts can make a big difference.

For example, the body needs very little vitamin B12 - only a few micrograms, versus other vitamins where the body's requirements are measured in milligrams, thousands of times more. But it does not mean that Vitamin B12 is not important. You develop serious nerve problems when you don't get enough vitamin B12.

It's the same with minerals. Only very tiny amounts are present. But they are crucial to health. Deficiency of iodine, one of the trace elements present in natural sea salt, can cause developmental problems that include physical and mental retardation. Other trace elements are important too.

Click here to learn more about natural sea salt nutrition.

Today, minerals have become even more important because the use of chemical fertilisers in modern agricultural has virtually stripped the soil of minerals. As a result, land vegetables contain almost zero minerals. Thus, it has become all the more important for us to obtain minerals from natural sea salt as well as seaweeds.

Sea salt vs table salt - chemical additives

The small amounts of chemicals added to table salt as anti-caking agents may also be harmful to health. One commonly used anti-caking agent is sodium ferrocyanide, which, in spite of the presence of cyanide ions, is described as being "not especially toxic".

What does this mean? To me, it means it won't kill you immediately but is still toxic nonetheless. Like other chemical additives, it will probably produce vague and general harmful effects - like lethargy, tiredness, compromised immunity, body aches, etc - that will be hard to prove scientifically. So the official stand is that sodium ferrocyanide is safe. What it really means is that is has not yet been proven harmful.

The same goes for other anti-caking agents found in table salt, including sodium aluminosilicate and calcium aluminosilicate. These are also officially declared to be sare even though they are aluminium salts and the consumption of aluminium has been associated with brain degeneration, including Alzheimer's Disease.

Note: Anti caking agents and other substances added to table salt, including sugar and additives, need not be listed on the label. If you read the ingredients list on a container of table salt, it will nerely state "salt".

Sea salt vs table salt - manufacturing processes

How the salt is produced also makes a difference. Very often, the production of refined table salt involves heating salt water to extremely high temperatures of about 1,200ºF. This extremely high heat is believed to alter the chemical structure of salt molecules, rendering it harmful.

In contrast, natural sea salt is usually obtained by simply drying sea water in air and sunlight. Some producers of natural sea salt also take the trouble to grind the salt gently, rather than use heavy machinery to crush and pound the salt into finer grains. Again, this is believed to make a difference. Look out for such information on the packaging.

Sea salt vs table salt - the taste test

Taste and flavor differences between natural sea salt vs table salt are well recognised, even by the medical establishment that claims the two types of salt have "no difference". Some gourmet chefs go to the extent of using very expensive natural sea salts - that cost tens of dollars for a few hundred grams - just to give their food a special flavor.

There is no need for such expensive salts if your concern is health rather than gourmet cooking. Yet you can still taste and feel the difference. When I used to run a natural foods store, I had one customer, a German, who remarked that the (moderately-priced) natural sea salt that we sold was "the Rolls Royce of salt".

Try this simple taste test:

It does not matter which salt you try first. And there is no need to rinse your mouth in between taste tests. You will find a very big and obvious difference between natural sea salt vs table salt.

With refined table salt, you will get a very strong salty taste and a "biting" effect that could make you cringe. With natural sea salt, the taste is less salty and more pleasant, even slightly "sweet" after a while. And the effect on your tongue will be a lot gentler. There is no "biting" feeling; you won't cringe.

Sea salt vs table salt - yin and yang

In the study of macrobiotics, we understand the difference between natural sea salt vs table salt - the cringe vs no cringe - as a difference between yin and yang.

The strong biting effect produced by refined table salt is a sign of strong "contracting energy", which we call "yang energy". In contrast, the absence of this strong contracting effect when you taste natural sea salt indicates that it has less contracting energy, balanced by a slight "expanding" or "yin" energy.

We understand that natural sea salt is less yang / more yin compared to refined table salt.

Sea salt vs table salt - health effect

The most important difference between sea salt vs table salt is that natural sea salt DOES NOT cause high blood pressure. Followers of the macrobiotic diet, as well as people in less developed societies who do not take refined table salt, generally do not suffer from high blood pressure and other problems associated with salt.

Click here to learn more about the health effects of natural sea salt vs table salt.

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Benefits of sea salt
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Sea salt vs table salt
Types of salt
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Iodized salt
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