types of salt

All about Salt (NaCl): Types, Uses, Health Benefits, Risks

Is there a day you cook food in your house and you don’t add salt to it? It is very unlikely in our everyday lives.  Do you understand the salt you use every day? Let talk about salt by first defining what salt is.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a mineral deposit composed of sodium chloride.  Sodium chloride as a chemical compound is abbreviated as NaCl.  Salt is highly present in large quantities in seawater compared to their sources of water like spring water.

Salt is the oldest food seasoning in the world. Salting is also one of the best natural ways of preserving food.  Salt became a trade commodity between countries and also resulted in many countries going to way. It was also a cause one of the main reasons for raising taxes.

In chemistry, salt is a substance that is produced when an acid and a base react.  The reaction between rain and acid and a base is called neutralisation. 

Salt varies in colour from colourless when pure, to a range of white, grey, pink, black, green and brownish.  It also can be found in many sizes and shapes. 

Since we now know what salt is, let us look at its nutritional composition next.

Nutritional Composition of Salt

Nutritional composition of salt per 1 teaspoon

Note: The percentage daily value in the table below is per 2000 calorie diet

Amount Per 1 tsp (6 g)% Daily Value*
Calories 00%
Total Fat 0 g0%
Saturated fat 0 g0%
Cholesterol 0 mg0%
Sodium 2325.5 mg96%
Potassium 0.5 mg0%
Total Carbohydrate 0 g0%
Dietary fiber 0 g0%
Sugar 0 g0%
Protein 0 g0%
Vitamin C      0%
Iron0%
Vitamin B60%
Magnesium0%
  

This table shows daily values based on a 2000 calorie diet, but your values could be higher or lower according to your specific body needs and requirements.

 This nutritional composition may vary based on the type of salt you may be dealing with. Let’s look at the different types of salt.

white salt with large crystals
white salt with large crystals

Types of Salt

Verities of salt exist along with the different local minerals from which they are extracted and the evaporation methods used to form the crystals.  Let’s take look at the most notable varieties of salt.

Table Salt

Table salt is also commonly known as refined salt or cooking salt.  It is called refined salt because it has been changed or processed from its original natural state.  This salt is mined and then put through the water to remove other trace minerals. It is then dried in very high temperatures above 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Anti-caking agents are then added to prevent them from sticking together. Table salt is 97percent sodium chloride and 3% chemicals.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is the name for salt that is not refined. Sea salt comes from evaporating seawater. Sea salt has larger flakes meaning it is less ground.   Sea salt is considered a better choice compared to processed table salt, but it may not be any better.  Seawater has been polluted over the years with various chemicals which may be toxic and poisonous. Common sources of sea salt are the North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean.

Kosher Salt

This is refined salt with larger crystals than the normal table salt. This salt has no additives like iodide and anti-caking chemicals. This type of salt is mostly used in making meat koshers.  This salt is also manufactured according to kosher requirements and standards.  Its origin can be traced back to Jewish religious purposes. The Jewish people used this salt to remove blood from meat surfaces making the meat kosher.

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan salt is mined from pure salt deposits in the Himalayan Mountains. This salt is said to be uncontaminated with modern-day pollutants. Himalayan pink salt is mined right from its source and not evaporated. The crystals are substantial and contribute to the crunch of dishes.

Red, Black And Pink Salt

These salts in their different colours are harvested from all over the globe.  Their colours come from the natural crystals and oxidants from where they are formed. Hawaiian alaea salt is almost red and this comes from the iron oxide–rich red volcanic clay which gives them their colour.

There are several salts all over the world with names based on their location, colours, textures and method of formation which we have not exhausted. Let’s look at the uses of salt in our daily lives.

What Are The Uses Of Salt?

  • Salt is added to food to taste as a seasoning
  • Salt is added to water to make the water boil faster
  • Salts helps to prevent apples from browning, drop your apples in a little salted water to retain their colour
  • Salt is good cleaning agent for stained cups and saucepans, removing bad Oder from fridge’s and ovens.
  • Salt is used in household cleaning to remove wine stains from carpets, rugs, tables and brightening colours.
  • Salt is used in health to heal sore throats when gargled, cleaning teeth and relieving tired feet by soaking them in salty water.
  • Salt is used in beauty removing eye puffiness and dry skin. It can be used as a facial when mixed with olive oil.

Health Benefits of Eating Salt

Prevents Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiencies in your body will prevent the production of thyroid hormones. Iodized salt is the most common source of iodine. the signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency include; an enlarged thyroid, constipation, difficulty in thinking and sensitivity to cold

Hydrates the body

Salt in the body promotes healthy hydration which is necessary for healthy organs.  Salts help parts of your body like muscles to maintain the right amount of fluids.

Healthy pregnancy

Adequate salt intake is required by pregnant mothers to maintain good health for themselves and their babies

Prevents low blood pressure

Inadequate amounts of salt in your diet can lead to low blood pressure (hypotension). Signs of hypotension include; nausea, fainting, blurry vision, dizziness

Improves symptoms of cystic fibrosis

People with cystic fibrosis lose a lot of salt in their sweat so they need constant rejuvenation by consuming adequate salt and water in their diet

Salt is not always good. Too much of everything is bad as we have been told let us look at a few risks of eating a lot of salt.

Short term risks of eating a lot of salt

  • Water retention in your body is a short term risk of eating salt. Increased water retention will result into the swelling of your hands and feet.
  • A high salt intake will possibly cause a lot of blood to flow through your veins leading to an increase in blood pressure
  • Intense thirst is one of the consequences of eating a lot of salt. They body will demand water to cut on the level of sodium chloride in your body

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