Walk into a gourmet food store, go to the shelf that stocks salt. Count the number of options that are available for purchase. While you do that, spot their different colours, origins and textures. By the end of this exercise, it will no longer be easy to pick out a salt for your daily needs.
What exactly is salt? Salt is a mineral harvested from sea water or mined from the earth. Irrespective of its source, it is basically a combination of two chemicals – sodium and chloride. Depending upon its source, it also contains other minerals such as potassium and magnesium. All of these elements of salt are essential to our body in the right amounts.
For most of us, life without salt seems unimaginable. Indian households typically use two types of salt that are commonly available in the market – rock salt and table salt. These are used in different preparations to add the right taste and enhance flavour. If you ask anyone the difference between these two salts, the answer will be the taste. But the fact is that both types of salt are primarily sodium chloride. The difference lies in the journey that they undertake to reach your kitchen.
This salt is manufactured by evaporating sea water. It is processed to remove impurities and enhanced with iodine. Table salt is iodized to address iodine deficiency, which can cause severe diseases such as goitre. It is commonly used in most urban households. As it is refined and finely ground, it blends with food and drinks seamlessly without leaving any residue. This salt satisfies many of our body’s needs and ensures proper growth, development and functioning of the whole body.
Remember the delicious food preparations made on days of fasting? They taste special due to the use of rock salt, especially prescribed during fasting as this salt has additional nutritional benefits. Rock salt is a naturally occurring mineral-rich salt harvested from salt mines; it contains minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In a crystalline form, it appears as light pink rocks and it has to be crushed before consumption. Known for its ayurvedic medicinal properties and distinct taste, rock salt is known to improve digestion and boost metabolism. It maintains the body’s pH balance and replenishes electrolytes.
Which one is better?
Current culinary trends would have you believe that natural is better. But when it comes to salt, it isn’t always the case. Table salt is essential to our well-being as it is enriched with iodine, an essential element that doesn’t occur naturally in our body. On the other hand, rock has its own merits with its distinct taste, medicinal properties and naturally occurring minerals.
To make the right choice, it is crucial to understand the role of salt in our diet. Salt is more than just a condiment, it is an essential mineral and dietary supplement for our bodies. Choosing the right salt is purely based on your body’s needs.
According to National Institutes of Health, iodized salt is extremely important for young children and expecting mothers as it helps in physical and mental development. Rock salt is a great alternative for special culinary purposes and it is an apt addition when you want to add a special taste or increase the nutritional value of your dishes.
Both of these salts should have their own space on your kitchen shelf. An ideal solution is to make use of both as per your dietary needs and culinary requirements.
The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.