We’ve all heard news reports or supposed stories about how salt is bad for your health – but that isn’t exactly the truth. In fact, consuming the right amount of high-quality sea salt actually has a plethora of health benefits, helping you stay hydrated, boosting your immune system, and fighting off bacteria. But first, what is sea salt? And how does it differ from other salts?
What is sea salt?
Sea salt is a type of natural salt that’s made from evaporated seawater and includes varieties such as Celtic sea salt and Bamboo salt. Other natural salts include Himalayan salt and Volcanic rock salt. Natural salts are primarily made of sodium chloride, but also contain small amounts of essential minerals – including magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc – that are necessary for good health. Natural salts are less processed than table salt, which is manufactured by taking salt and heating it at 1200° Fahrenheit. Once the salt reaches this temperature, it loses essential minerals that are necessary for maintaining proper hydration and an adequate sodium-potassium ratio.
Is sea salt bad for you?No, on its own, sea salt is not bad for you. In fact, sea salt can offer many positive health benefits. After all, sea salt has been used for thousands of years and has been regarded by ancient cultures all over the world as a precious substance with life enhancing properties:
“The Celtic word for salt also means holy or sacred in the Celtic language. In the mythology of the Sumerian culture, the God Enlil determined that Gods and human rulers might never taste cooked food before it is sanctified by salt. In the Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures, salt was regarded as a divine gift and frequently used in religious rituals. The Romans attributed such value to salt and it was often used as money, which is where the word “salary” comes from. Roman soldiers were often paid with salt. The Chinese even had a special God for salt, named Phelo.”Scientifically speaking, salt supports a variety of human bodily functions, including:
- Staying hydrated and balancing fluids
- Regulating blood pressure
- Contracting and relaxing muscles
- Distributing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
One only needs to look at the use of saline IV drips in hospitals around the world to understand its medicinal value. As Bryan Ardis notes, “it doesn't matter if you went with a heart attack or stroke, the first thing they're going to inject inside of you is salt.” That’s because saline IV drips have been proven to help people and are therefore included in life-saving protocols.
Misconceptions about salt
So where does the misconception that ‘salt is bad for you’ stem from? Typically, when people and medical studies discuss the so-called “negative” aspects of salt, they’re talking about low-quality, processed types of salt that are merely sodium chloride without essential minerals. These types of salts are problematic because natural salt’s mineral concentration help us maintain proper hydration and an adequate sodium-potassium ratio. Without minerals, refined table salt can indeed upset the body’s natural electrolyte balance, increase blood pressure, and strain the kidneys. In addition, the toxic additives found in table salt - like fluoride, anti-caking agents, and aluminum derivatives - increase the potential for harmful effects from table salt even more.
What about toxins in natural salt?
While natural salts are always healthier than table salts, the increasing pollution of our environment is problematic. Seawater is now contaminated with microplastics (plastic particles of polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon, and other synthetic materials) and the open pools in which sea salt is sun dried are subject to environmental pollution. Researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia showed that microplastics are found in 90 percent of commercial sea salt brands and an Australian study found heavy metals like aluminum, cadmium, and lead in 31 commercial pink salts. However, not all salts fall into this category. There are health-focused, high-quality salts, such as bamboo salt, which is free from toxins, rich in minerals, and highly alkaline.
The Purest Sea Salt: Bamboo Sea SaltKorean bamboo salt, also known as Jugyeom, is a high-quality sea salt with numerous health benefits. Created by Buddhist monks nearly a millennium ago, bamboo salt is made by hand-harvesting sea salt from the Korean coast and drying it in the sun. It’s then encased in bamboo pillars and roasted at high temperatures, which evaporates and eliminates toxins such as microplastics and heavy metals. Simultaneously, the oils from the bamboo stalks infuse the salt with minerals and sulfur and increase its alkalinity. With bamboo salt specifically, the benefits are even more impressive than sea salt. Some of the medically-proven perks of bamboo salt include:
- Antimicrobial characteristics: Compared to other salt groups, bamboo salt has a higher concentration of antimicrobial properties and could be used as a natural antimicrobial.
- Oral health benefits: When used in herbal toothpaste, bamboo salt can improve oral health, whiten teeth, and strengthen enamel.
- Immunity-boosting properties: Studies have found that this type of salt may strengthen your immune system.
- Anti-cancer effects: Multiple studies have tested bamboo salt’s role in cancer treatment, finding that it may help with cancer prevention and tumor growth.
- Effectiveness against H. pylori infections: The results of one study have suggested that bamboo salt has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties against H. pylori infections.
- Anti-aging qualities: In another study, mice that consumed bamboo salt and were exposed to UV radiation had higher dermal collagen levels than mice that had other types of salt.
- Prevention and relief from gastrointestinal disorders: When mixed with garlic, bamboo salt could help prevent and offer relief from certain stomach-related problems.
- Inhibits allergic reactions: More research found that mice who received a higher concentration of bamboo salt had a greater allergy inhibition rate.