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What Salt Should I Use? Mediterranean, Himalayan, or Iodized?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
May 14, 2024
May 14, 2024

Salt is a fundamental ingredient in cooking, enhancing flavors and adding depth to dishes. However, with a multitude of salt options available, ranging from traditional iodized salt to exotic varieties like Mediterranean and Himalayan, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. In this article, we'll explore the differences between Mediterranean, Himalayan, and iodized salt, and help you learn which one is best.

Comparing The Salts Of The World: Mediterranean and Himalayan

Mediterranean sea salt, known as fleur de sel or sel gris, is harvested from the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Typically hand-harvested, it retains many natural minerals and trace elements. Rich in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, Mediterranean salt offers more than just seasoning—it provides a subtle taste of the sea and adds depth to dishes.

If you are looking for quality, ditch iodized refined table salt and go for a mineral-dense sea salt like pink Himalayan sea salt (for more trace minerals). Our body needs regular intake of trace minerals and many of us struggle to get enough from food. Choosing salt quality wisely can truly make a difference!  – Grace Aguirre, MS, RD, IFD

Himalayan salt, mined from ancient sea beds in the Himalayan mountains, is renowned for its striking pink hue and mineral-rich composition. Unlike table salt, which is heavily processed and stripped of its natural minerals, Himalayan salt retains its mineral content, like iron, zinc, and manganese. This unique composition gives Himalayan salt its distinctive flavor and nutritional benefits.

The Processed Salt

Sodium chloride and iodized salt are staples in many households. Approximately 150 years ago, iodine deficiency was a widespread issue, causing numerous health problems. To address this concern, the food industry introduced iodized salt. Today, it is widely available, inexpensive, and convenient. However, among the various types of salt, processed table salt is often considered the least healthy. Here's why:

  • It is highly processed: Sodium chloride, or table salt, undergoes numerous processes to remove impurities and minerals, transforming it into sodium chloride. This refining process strips away natural minerals and trace elements.
  • Other things are usually added: Table salt often contains additives such as anti-caking agents (e.g., sodium aluminosilicate) and iodine fortifiers (turning table salt into iodized salt). While iodine fortification helps prevent iodine deficiency, some anti-caking agents may contain undesirable compounds or additives.
  • Processing chemicals: The refining process of table salt may involve the use of chemicals and additives to achieve the desired texture and appearance. These chemicals can potentially introduce contaminants or residues into the final product, although regulatory standards aim to minimize such risks.

Takeaways

Overall, while table salt remains a common seasoning and food preservative, choosing less processed varieties like sea salt, Himalayan salt, or naturally occurring mineral salts offer additional nutritional benefits and a more natural flavor profile. Talk to your dietitian about how much salt or sodium you need. They may even suggest trying a Salt Sensitivity Test at home. As with any part of your diet or routine, don’t overdo it. Too much salt, even Himalayan salt, is probably not a good thing. If you're looking to enhance flavors without the salt, check out this another article of ours.

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