Salt is an essential dietary nutrient, which all-living things utilize. In its natural form, it is referred to as “unrefined,” having not been altered by man. A few examples of this type of salt include Celtic Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt, and Redmond Salt. These types of salt contain more than 80 essential minerals and natural elements that are necessary for good health. Unrefined salt is a whole food product that supplies the body with the proper balance of sodium, chloride, minerals, trace elements, and moisture.
Common table salt is “refined” and contains higher amounts of sodium and chloride than natural mineral salts do. And, when processed, the salt is stripped of the essential minerals and moisture, giving it a longer shelf life but making it a lifeless product.
“Unrefined” salt is a crystallized mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride and is processed from salt mines, evaporation from seawater (sea salt), or mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools. This natural salt helps with detoxification of various harmful chemicals found in our bodies, including bromine, which depletes the body of iodine, a critical nutrient for the prevention of thyroid disorders and breast cancer.
One way you will know if your salt contains trace minerals is by its color. Regular table salt is bleached and very white, but natural mineral salts come from deep within the earth, containing lots of minerals, and will have a beautiful pink color or have speckles of minerals in it.
Salt is an essential nutrient and the amount of salt in the diet influences health. Too much salt can raise blood pressure and may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but using a natural “unrefined” salt does not create heat nor water retention in the body.
Adding the right type of salt to your diet can help with blood pressure, cholesterol, fatigue, headaches, sinus and respiratory issues, muscle cramps, stress (adrenal) disorders, thyroid problems, and immune system function and can increase bone strength.
Salt is one of the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent), and Ayurveda believes mineral salt enkindles the digestive fire (Agni) and stimulates the appetite, which enhances the sense of taste. Salt helps digest natural toxins (Ama) and clears the channels of the body. This type of salt is calming on the nervous system and emotions and helps to ground excess Vata dosha.
Rasa (taste): salty, sweet
Virya (action): cooling
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): sweet
Doshas (constitutions): balancing for Vata may increase Pitta and Kapha.