Salt of the Earth, Sea, and everything in between

It's time to end the war on salt according to Scientific America. While salt has been trending in the wellness world in the form of specialized bath salts and even lamps, the salt in our diets has gotten a bad reputation. A 2010 study from the Institute of Medicine pushed the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt added to food products, but does less salt really mean better health?

The answer lies in the difference between salt and sodium according to Well and Good. The two have become synonymous recently when they really shouldn't be. Salt contains a lot of different minerals and sodium is one of them. While sodium is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, the reality is most people only get about 11% of the sodium in their diets from actual salt. The bulk of the sodium we consume is found in processed foods and beverages that use this mineral for a longer shelf life.

The FDA recommends no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day. Going over the recommended amount can lead to water retention and bloating while too little sodium can leave you dizzy and light headed. The key to consuming salt is all about balance and getting the right amount. Make sure to check food labels for sodium measurements and be aware that restaurant food is usually high in this fickle mineral.

The verdict? Don't be afraid to use salt in everyday cooking. If you're limiting processed foods and eating a whole foods diet, you're probably getting a healthy amount of sodium. Salt is one of the most important components to cooking. Besides being one of the five basic tastes (sweet, bitter, salty, and umami), salt brings out distinct flavors in food. While you've probably heard of sea salt and maybe even pink himalayan, there are a lot of delicious salt varieties out there. Here's a breakdown of the salts we love to cook with and how best to use them.

Table Salt (Refined Salt)

Food Series: Refined Table Salt

Table salt is one of the most common forms of salt. It's highly refined and harvested from underground salt deposits. Most table salt is iodized to prevent iodine deficiencies. It's used across America as an all purpose salt for cooking and baking.

Kosher Salt

Food Series: Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is coarser and has a larger grain size than table salt. Despite its name, this salt isn't actually kosher. It dissolves really quickly making it great for everyday cooking and seasoning boiling water.

Sea Salt

Food Series: Sea Salt

Sea salt is harvested from evaporated water. While the grain size is larger than table salt it's more refined than the kosher variety. Sea salt contains healthy minerals like iodine, potassium, and zinc. The minerals also give this salt a stronger flavor. Sea salt is delicious on sea food and often used around the rim of cocktails.

Celtic Sea Salt

Food Series: Celtic Sea Salt

Celtic Sea Salt is harvest from tidal pools off the coast of France. It's full of healthy minerals and has a slightly moist texture to it. It's also known as grey salt thanks to it's greyish hue. Celtic sea salt is great for cooking hearty meats and root vegetables.

Flake Salt

Food Series: Flake Salt

Flake sat is like the name suggests thin, flaky pieces of salt harvested from water by evaporation. This salt has a crunchy texture and works great as a last minute touch to a finished dish, as a salt crust for meats and fish, and to quickly season pasta water.

Pink Himalayan Salt

Food Series: Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Like a lot people, pink himalayan salt is my favorite kind of salt. It's considered the purest form of salt in the world and is harvested salt mines in the Himalayas. This salt contains 84 minerals that are naturally found in the human body, making it the healthiest choice. Himalayan pink salt is great around the rim of a margarita, to use in everyday cooking, and can even be added to a hot bath for a relaxing detox.

Fleur de Sel

Food Series: Fleur de Sel Salt

Fleur de Sel means "flower of the sea" in French, and like celtic sea salt, is harvested from tide pools off the coast of France. Fleur de Sel is the finest form of salt and has a labor-intensive harvesting process that makes it one of the most expensive salt varieties. It's often referred to as the caviar of salts. Fleur de sel has grey-ish tint and a delicious flavor that's perfect for meats, seafood, vegetables, and even baked goods.

Black Hawaiian

Food Series: Black Hawaiian Salt

Black Hawaiian salt is harvested from activated charcoal from the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It's also known as black lava salt, and has a dark black color. It's coarse, slightly crunchy and works great on seafood and pork dishes.

Red Hawaiian

Food Series: Red Hawaiian Salt

Red Hawaiian salt has a reddish, pink color thanks to being harvested from iron rich volcanic clay. It's delicious on seafood and pork and is found in a lot of traditional Hawaiian dishes. The pretty color also makes it great for cocktails and plate decoration.

Smoked Salt

Food Series: Smoked Salt

Smoked salt is one of my favorite salts to use when I'm making slow-cooked meats. It's made by being slowly smoked over a wood fire for about two weeks. The flavor and color of this salt varies depending on the wood used and the amount of time the salt is left to smoke. Generally, it has a bronzy color and wonderful smokey flavor that's perfect for red meat and hearty vegetables like potatoes.

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