Celtic Sea Salt Health Benefits, How to Use and Comparisons - Dr. Axe

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Celtic Sea Salt: More Popular than Its Pink Cousin?


Celtic sea salt

Up until recently, Himalayan pink sea salt was the salt du jour. That brings us to Celtic sea salt, which is similar in both its composition and health benefits.

Celtic sea salt is one of the cleanest, more nutritious salts available today. It’s chock-full of minerals and trace elements, so it goes beyond just making your food taste better.

Not only can you use sea salt as a healthier option to processed salt, but it’s also valuable for skin beauty recipes, such as homemade body scrubs and bath soaks.

Learn more about its benefits and how to use Celtic sea salt.

What Is Celtic Sea Salt?

With a grayish hue, Celtic sea salt is naturally harvested in Brittany, France, near the Celtic Sea, using a 2,000-year-old Celtic method that is crucial to preserving its nutrition profile.

Also known as sel gris or grey salt, it retains its moisture regardless of how you store it. Think of this as a gentle reminder of its ocean source.

Why is it called Celtic sea salt? While it’s produced far away from the traditional Celtic regions of Ireland and Scotland, the name origin refers to the Celtic traditional method of salt mining.

Produced from the evaporation of current seawater, Celtic sea salt has become an overwhelmingly popular culinary favorite. The evaporation is usually accomplished by open-air solar evaporation, after which wooden tools are used to meticulously rake and gather the salt.

Like Himalayan pink salt, Celtic salt is hardly processed and contains health-promoting trace minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and potassium. They also both feature natural flavors and colors that help make them tastier and more interesting to use for cooking as well as homemade beauty products.

While Celtic sea salt can be refined, unrefined Celtic sea salt is generally recommended to maximize its potential health benefits. Compared to heavily processed table salt that produces only a salty taste, Celtic sea salt retains much more of its natural mineral composition to deliver a more complex, nuanced taste.

Nutrition Facts

One-quarter teaspoon (1.5 g) of Celtic sea salt contains:

  • Calories: 0
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 480 mg (20% DV*)
  • Iron: 0.36 mg (2% DV)

*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.

In addition to iron, Celtic sea salt usually contains trace amounts of magnesium, calcium, potassium and copper. Because it’s harvested by hand, each batch is different in terms of its mineral composition.

Celtic Sea Salt vs. Other Salts

These days, many culinary experts favor Celtic sea salt above all other salts, including pink Himalayan sea salt. Learn why.

1. Celtic sea salt vs. pink Himalayan sea salt

Pink Himalayan sea salt and Celtic sea salt are often compared, for good reason. First, one is pink while the other is gray.

Pink Himalayan salt is also known as a rock salt, as it comes from the mountains of Pakistan that are ancient ocean deposits. Celtic gray salt is a sea salt, straight from today’s sea.

Some experts consider Celtic sea salt to contain higher mineral amounts and may feature more mineral complexity. Regardless, many Himalayan salt companies say that Himalayan pink salt contains 84 trace minerals, but there is debate that both types of sea salts contain around 60 minerals.

Either way, they both contain minerals in small amounts.

2. Celtic sea salt vs. table salt

Table salt is mainly mined from underground salt deposits but is then heavily processed (which eliminates healthy minerals) and manufactured by taking natural salt (such as crude oil flake leftovers) and heating it to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. During this extreme process, the chemical composition is completely altered, destroying many of its potential health-promoting properties.

Just be aware that table salt usually has iodine added to support thyroid health. Sea salts do not supply this essential nutrient.

3. Celtic salt vs. kosher salt

Kosher salt is used in kosher meat, and it’s made only from sodium chloride. There are neither additives nor iodine.

A coarse salt with a large flake size, kosher salt is usually applied directly onto foods with one’s fingers.

Because of its unique texture, kosher salt is often used for draining blood from meat prior to consumption to comply with Jewish laws, which is where it gets its name.

4. Celtic sea salt vs. Fleur de Sel or Flor de Sal

French or Portuguese for “flower of salt,” this sea salt gets its name from the patterns of crystals that resemble flowers. This is a salt that forms as a thin, fragile crust on seawater’s surface  as it evaporates.

It’s most commonly used for cooking as a finishing salt.

5. Celtic sea salt vs. flake sea salt

This variety of sea salt can be formed naturally or produced by a variety of methods. Often sold under the brand Maldon sea salt flakes, flaky sea salts have thin, flattened crystals that provide more surface area with less mass, resulting in a quick-dissolving and crunchy salt.

It’s said that flake sea salt has a saltier taste but may also contain a lower amount of trace minerals than other sea salts.

6. Celtic sea salt vs. Hawaiian sea salt (black salt)

Hawaiian or Alaea sea salt is a traditional Hawaiian salt. Alae is a natural red volcanic clay that is added to enrich the salt with iron oxide, and it gives this sea salt its distinctive red sea salt color but can also be found in white or black sea salt varieties.

Real Hawaiian salt is pricey and hard to find outside of Hawaii.

7. Celtic sea salt vs. Dead Sea salt

Unlike most sea salts, Dead Sea salt is not meant to be consumed. It comes from the very salty waters of the Dead Sea, and it’s used mostly in skincare products and treatments.

Health Benefits

Salt has always been essential to human life since humans need sodium in order to survive, and sea salt has been a star ingredient in many forms of traditional medicine for centuries. Ancient Ayurvedic texts even mention it and consider it essential to the function and growth of the body.

Here is more on the benefits of sea salt backed up by research.

1. Rich in trace minerals and electrolytes

High-quality sea salts typically contain upward of 60 trace minerals and are a great source of micronutrients.

It’s become harder and harder to obtain trace minerals from the foods we eat due to the lack of nutrient-rich soil. However, trace minerals are still abundant in our planet’s seas and oceans, from which we get a variety of sea salts.

The minimal processing of unrefined sea salt enables it to retain much of its natural mineral content. Sea salt contains many of the major electrolytes, like sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium, that are absolutely essential to good health.

Electrolytes have so many important functions — from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract so you can move. Sea salt in moderation can help in avoiding an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause all kinds of serious negative symptoms.

2. Improves hydration and blood pressure levels

Sodium is important for fluid balance, for not getting enough can trigger dehydration, particularly during intense or prolonged exercise.

By consuming sea salt in moderation each day, you also ensure that you maintain sufficient sodium levels, which helps balance your sodium-potassium ratios. Sodium and potassium are two electrolytes — often featured in electrolyte drinks — that work together to ensure that there is proper fluid balance in your body’s cells as well as your blood plasma and extracellular fluid.

This proper fluid balance in your body also helps maintain normal and healthy blood pressure levels.

3. Promotes brain, muscle and nervous system function

As a good source of sodium, sea salt is essential for proper brain, muscle and nervous system function. Not only does sodium play a role in regulating your body’s fluid balance, but it’s also required for the transmission of electrical signals in the body.

Without this communication system working as it should, the brain, muscles and nervous systems are especially inclined to suffer. Both too much and too little sodium cause cellular malfunction.

4. Supports digestive health

Not getting enough salt in your diet can also negatively impact your digestive health. In fact, a lack of salt in the diet can lead to a reduction of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach.

If you have low stomach acid, it can seriously throw your digestive system out of whack, contributing to issues like heartburn, stomach pain, vomiting and constipation. Consuming the right amount of sea salt can help your body produce proper amounts of HCL since sea salt provides chloride, one of the building blocks of stomach acid.

5. Promotes nutrient absorption

Having enough stomach acid also helps our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals, like calcium, zinc, iron, folate and vitamin B12. For this reason, consuming a high-quality sea salt regularly can help your body absorb more nutrients from the foods that you eat.

This is great news since it’s not only what you eat, but how your body processes what you eat that gives your body the essential nutrients it needs on a daily basis.

How to Use

How do you ensure getting the right type of Celtic sea salt? Because of higher amounts of plastics and microplastics in the oceans, it’s recommended to purchase Celtic sea salt from small-batch purveyors who can disclose the quality and sourcing.

According to Ayurveda, salt should be unrefined and consumed in moderation to get the most health benefits. Sea salt is believed to act as an antidiuretic and help soothe the throat, clear the sinuses, support electrolyte balance and aid in detoxification.

Meanwhile, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, sea salt is used to cool the body and regulate levels of water and moisture. It’s also said to enhance kidney health, flush out toxins and promote proper digestion in the body.

Most health authorities advise people 14 years and older to limit their consumption to 2,300 mg/day. This equals about 1 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt.

In the U.S., normal sodium levels that can be supportive of general health are between 1,500 and 2,300 mg/day.

Celtic sea salt is used is cooking increasingly these days. Because it dissolves easily in liquids, it works well in soups and stews. Celtic salt is also a good finishing salt for meat, fish or vegetarian dishes, as it imparts a unique, complex salt flavor.

Another common use of Celtic sea salt is adding it to water. Use as a homemade sports drinks to replace electrolytes or for those with naturally low sodium levels. However, for most people, this is not necessary, nor do health professionals advise anyone to adopt this practice.

Risks and Side Effects

Even though sea salt has some health benefits, you don’t want to overdo it. If your diet is too high in sodium, then more water is excreted by the kidneys, which can cause complications with balancing other essential electrolytes.

Symptoms of having too much sodium in your diet may include bloating, lethargy, dehydration, weakness, irritability and muscle twitching.

Also, be aware that if you’re cutting table salt out of your diet in favor of Celtic sea salt, make sure you get enough iodine from other food sources or a multivitamin. If you don’t commonly consume any of these foods, you can also opt for iodized sea salt.

Lastly, because there’s a low risk of heavy metal content, it’s recommended to choose Celtic sea salt from a reputable company that regularly tests for heavy metals as well as other contaminants.

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