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Sea Salt: Health Benefits, Risk Factors And Uses

Sea salt is an unfiltered salt made directly by evaporating seawater. Since the prehistoric times, the salt is largely used in cuisines and for medicinal purposes. As the sea salt undergoes very less filtration process, the number of minerals in it like sodium, iodine, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and manganese are retained compared to table salt. Also, the active compounds present in sea salt is directly absorbed by our body when taken. [1]

The common hubs for sea salt harvesting include the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The harvesting of the salt is done in a way to preserve its natural state and minerals in it. Sea salt comes in coarse grain size which is slightly bigger than table salt. It is considered a better and healthier option compared to table salt.


Difference Between Sea Salt And Table Salt

Difference Between Sea Salt And Table Salt
Sea salt and table salt varies according to their texture, taste and processing. Here's the difference between the two of them.

Type Of Difference Sea Salt Table Salt
Taste As sea salt contains minerals, it is not too salty and instead, have a little sweet taste. As table salt is highly processed with iodine, it is saltier compared to the sea salt.
Texture The granules of sea salt are larger Table salt has a fine texture.
Colour It is slightly greyish, dull brown or pinkish in colour due to fewer filtration It is available in pure white colour.
Processing Sea salt is mined by evaporating ocean water. It is dissolved in water, precipitated for the removal of minerals and then reevaporated followed by adding sodium chloride, iodine and anti-caking agents.
Content of iodine It naturally contains a very less amount of iodine It is processed with added iodine which is helpful for the regulation of thyroid hormones.
Impurities It contains more impurities due to less processing. It does not contain any impurities due to heavy processing.

Sea Salt And Its Potential Health Benefits

Sodium is vital for our body for maintaining the cellular homeostasis and regulating fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It also helps in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and in excitability of nerve cells. Sea salt naturally contains 40% sodium which makes it valuable for our body. Some of the common health benefits of sea salt are as follows:


1. Maintains electrolyte balance

The minerals of sea salt like magnesium, sodium and calcium help in maintaining the electrolytic equilibrium in the body which further helps to improve the blood circulation, muscle strength and overall body functions. [2]


2. Normalizes heartbeat

Sodium, potassium and chloride in sea salt help in the nerve excitability and muscle contraction. This helps to improve cardiovascular health and normalize the heartbeat. [3]


3. Helps in digestion

Sea salt helps in protein digestion, regulates the digestive enzymes, pancreatic secretions and increases the count of good gut bacteria. All these features of sea salt help in aiding digestive problems and promote weight loss. [4]


4. Manages blood pressure

Sodium in sea salt helps to regulate the blood pressure in the body as it is one of the major electrolytes. A study says that sea salt helps reduce both diastolic blood pressure and systolic blood pressure which are good for the management of hypertension. [5]


5. Manages osteoporosis

Sea salt is very helpful in the management of inflammatory diseases like psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A study says that sea salt has a therapeutic effect which helps to treat knee osteoporosis in people. [6]


6. Boosts immune system

Sea salt has an alkalizing property which prevents the growth of harmful microorganisms in the body. Also, the minerals present in the salt help boost the immune system. [7]


Risks Associated With Overconsumption Of Sea Salt

Sea salt is good for our health, but only in the recommended amount. According to the U.S. Dietary Reference, the recommended amount of sea salt is up to 2300 mg/day and 1500 mg/day for people below 14 years of age, pregnant, older and with chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. However, it is advised to reduce the intake to 1500 mg/day. [8]

When the level of sodium increases in the body due to overconsumption of sea salt, the risks of diseases also increases. Usually, the sodium in our body is not increased by having home-cooked foods but by processed foods available in the market like pizza, chips, popcorns and soups. The risks associated with too much salt consumption are the following:

  • Stroke
  • Bloating and increased water retention
  • Heart attack
  • Stomach cancer
  • Osteoporosis

How To Use Sea Salt

  • While cooking, do not add sea salt directly to your dish. Instead, divide the total amount into equal proportions and add them one at a time after each ingredient for better taste.
  • Adding a pinch of sea salt over sweets like cookies and cakes add more to its taste.

Other Uses Of Sea Salt

  • Using sea salt for bathing helps to enhance skin hydration, dry skin and inflammation of the skin. [9]
  • Sea salt is also used in various home remedies like for removal of dark circles, aching feet and to treat muscle cramps.
  • It makes a perfect exfoliant for the removal of dead cells.
  • Using sea salt while brushing helps to promote dental health. [10]
  • Massaging the hair scalp with sea salt strengthens the hair follicles and promote the growth.
View Article References
  1. [1] Atkinson, M. J., & Bingman, C. (1997). Elemental composition of commercial seasalts. Journal of Aquariculture and Aquatic Sciences, 8(2), 39-43.
Story first published: Monday, January 27, 2020, 21:00 [IST]
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