Friday, October 12, 2007

Salt: so simple, yet so complicated!

I often find that nutrition information is conflicting—like when I recently did some research on salt. One book said that I should be eating refined table salt with iodine. Another advised me to use unrefined salt, which is sea salt and doesn't have iodine added to it. So what should I buy?

Initially, I learned that iodine is a mineral essential for normal thyroid gland function. The thyroid actually uses iodine to make hormones. My body needs the right balance of iodine, not too much, not too little.

At this point, I was ready to buy only iodized salt. But then I realized that table salt is refined salt and I like to keep away from as many refined foods as possible. Also, sea salt contains other healthy minerals besides sodium chloride that my body needs. In addition, too much iodine can be toxic to the thyroid gland. Hmmm. I have no idea how much iodine I am currently getting in my diet. What should I do? I want iodine but I also want the other healthy minerals that the sea salt offers.

I never thought to look at the ingredients in a box of salt. I thought salt was salt. I have several salts in my pantry because I was experimenting with different types to find one that would grind properly in my salt grinder (Zack's favorite wedding gift). I really should have been spending my time on buying the healthiest choice. But what is the healthiest choice?

Here's what I have in my cupboard right now as far as salt goes:

  1. Hain Sea Salt with disclaimer on front of package, "This salt does not supply iodine, a necessary nutrient."
  2. La Baleine with the same disclaimer, "This salt does not supply iodine, a necessary nutrient."
  3. Morton Kosher Salt. No warning label.
  4. Bulk coarse sea salt from Rainbow Grocery. Not sure, I need to go back and check.
  5. Hand-harvested sea salt from Ile de Re, France. No warning label but this is unrefined salt so no iodine.
  6. Big Tree Farms, Bali, handcrafted Balinese sea salt. No warning label but this is unrefined salt so no iodine.

I don't know if kosher salt is refined or unrefined, or iodized or not. I'm also unsure about the bulk salt, so I'm leaving those out of my equation. It looks like I have 100 percent noniodized salt. Okay, so I'm not getting iodine from my salt. Where else can I get iodine? How do I get the Food and Drug Administration's daily recommend amount of iodine (150 micrograms) without eating refined iodized salt? Here are a list of foods that naturally contain iodine:

Iodine content of selected food categories, in micrograms per 3 1/2-ounce (100 grams) serving. A kiwi is about 100 grams.

( From The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods)
Salt (iodized) 3,000 (that's a lot!)
Seafood 66
Vegetables 32
Meat 26
Eggs 26
Dairy products 13
Bread and cereals 10
Fruits 4

If I continue to feed Mikey real food, it looks like he'll get enough iodine. Seafood has the highest concentration. I'm off to buy some fish!


dragonflywisdom said...

I highly recommend Celtic Sea Salt....I keep a little dish of it on my stove and add it to my cooking as I go...Zack could use it in his favorite grinder, is a little moist...but I really like it. that's all...ML

Amy Jean said...

What's the word on kosher salt? Have you determined whether or not it contains iodine? Thanks!

Thais said...

I did some quick internet research and it sounds like Kosher salt is table salt without iodine. This article seems to say it the clearest.

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