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Celtic Salt vs. Himalayan Salt: Which One Is Better?

Celtic and Himalayan salt are two popular kinds of salt used for their rich mineral profile and health benefits like blood pressure regulation and electrolyte balance. To decide which one is a better choice, we need to compare Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt and analyze their nutrient content, taste, and usage. Whether you’re an experienced chef or a home user, you should know which one is healthier and tastier!

Celtic Salt vs. Himalayan Salt: Which One Is Better?
Highlights
  • Celtic or grey salt is a sea salt from northwestern France containing sodium chloride, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and trace minerals.
  • Himalayan or pink salt is sourced from mines in Pakistan near the foothills of the Himalayas containing calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.
  • Celtic salt can help blood pressure regulation, thyroid function, and electrolyte balance while causing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney problems, and cognitive decline.
  • Himalayan salt can help reduce blood pressure and improve electrolyte balance, respiratory health, and skin conditions while causing hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, lead poisoning, kidney issues, osteoporosis, and gastric problems.

What Is Celtic Salt?

Celtic salt, aka Sel gris (French for "grey salt"), is a type of sea salt with a grey color, which comes from the minerals and clay found in the salt flats where it is harvested. It is often moist and chunky due to its natural harvesting process.

The Celtic salt is harvested by hand using wooden tools to maintain its natural mineral content. To make this salt, the producers let seawater into shallow pools where it evaporates slowly under the sun, leaving salt crystals.

The salt crystals contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and trace amounts of other minerals, giving them health benefits and a special flavor. The distinctive taste and color of Celtic salt is because of the place it’s sourced from.

Where Is Celtic Salt Sourced From?

Celtic salt is mainly sourced from the coastal region of Brittany in northwestern France. It is harvested from the salt marshes and tidal ponds in areas such as:

  • Guérande: It is the most renowned area for Celtic salt. The salt marshes of Guérande are famous for producing high-quality grey sea salt using traditional methods passed down through generations.
  • Noirmoutier: Another significant location, the island of Noirmoutier, also in Brittany, is known for its high-quality salt production.

These regions have a long history of salt production, dating back centuries. The traditional hand-harvesting methods used in these regions ensure that the salt preserves its natural minerals and moisture, giving it its grey color and moist texture.

Also, the unique environmental conditions of the Brittany coast, including its mineral-rich clay and natural tidal flow, create the distinctive characteristics and high mineral content of Celtic salt.

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Celtic Salt Mineral Content and Flavor

Some of the main minerals in Celtic salt include:

  • Sodium Chloride: Making up about 84% of the salt
  • Magnesium: Essential for muscle and nerve function, magnesium causes the slightly moist texture of the salt
  • Calcium: Important for bone health and muscle function
  • Potassium: Necessary for maintaining normal fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle function
  • Iron: Causes the grey color of the salt and is crucial for oxygen transport in the blood
  • Zinc: Plays a role in immune function and wound healing
  • Trace Minerals: Including copper, manganese, and others, which add to the overall nutritional value

These minerals also affect the taste of Celtic salt and give it an earthy flavor, which distinguishes it from other types of salt like table salt, which has a relatively flat taste for containing pure sodium chloride in table salt.

Celtic salt maintains a slight dampness, which can enhance the perception of its flavor and make it more vibrant. Also, the coarse, flaky texture of Celtic salt can provide a satisfying crunch and burst of flavor when used as a finishing salt.

Its different flavor makes Celtic salt a popular choice among chefs and home cooks for improving the taste of dishes in a way that regular table salt cannot.

Additionally, the distinctive characteristics and high mineral content of Celtic salt can lead to different health benefits.

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The Benefits of Celtic Salt

The minerals found in Celtic salt can lead to the following positive health effects:

  • Blood Pressure Regulation: Lower sodium content in Celtic salt than table salt can significantly lower blood pressure. A 2023 study found that a low-sodium diet can reduce systolic blood pressure by an average of 6-8 mm Hg, which is beneficial even for those on blood pressure medications​ [1].
  • Iodine Content: Celtic salt contains less iodine than iodized table salt, still it can add to the overall intake of iodine. Adequate iodine is essential for thyroid function and overall health [2] [3].
  • Electrolyte Balance: The body's salt and water balance is necessary for maintaining proper hydration and metabolic functions. Celtic salt contains various minerals, including magnesium and potassium, which can help support this balance. Also, adequate electrolyte levels are important for muscle function, nerve signaling, and overall cellular health​ [4] [5].

Despite these benefits, Celtic salt is still salt and can bring about some side effects in some individuals because of its sodium content, especially if consumed in excess.

The Side Effects of Celtic Salt

Excessive sodium intake can cause various health issues, including the following.

  • Hypertension: High sodium intake is a significant risk factor for developing high blood pressure (hypertension). Hypertension, in turn, increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that reducing sodium intake can lower blood pressure even in individuals already on blood pressure medications​ [6] [7].
  • Cardiovascular Disease: There is an established link between high sodium consumption and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. This includes conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke. Lowering sodium intake is associated with a reduced risk of these conditions​ [8] [9].
  • Kidney Disease: High salt intake can strain the kidneys, leading to kidney damage, kidney stones, and worsening conditions such as chronic kidney disease, especially for individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions [10] [11]​.
  • Cognitive Decline: Studies on animal models have shown that excessive salt intake can lead to the accumulation of tau protein in the brain, which is linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. These findings suggest that high salt consumption can cause cognitive decline through mechanisms beyond just blood pressure regulation​ [12] [13]​.

To lower these risks, it’s wise to monitor and reduce sodium intake by knowing how to use Celtic salt, choosing low-sodium food options, cooking with less salt, and being mindful of the sodium content in processed and restaurant foods​.

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How to Use Celtic Salt?

You can use Celtic salt in cooking, baking, pickling, fermenting, brining, etc., for

  • Seasoning meats, vegetables, and soups
  • Boiling pasta, potatoes, or vegetables
  • Sprinkling on salads, grilled meats, and roasted vegetables
  • Balancing the sweetness in desserts like cookies and cakes, or adding depth to savory baked goods like bread and pastries
  • Pickling vegetables and fermenting foods like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Brining meat and poultry to retain moisture and improve flavor.

Also, check out the following tips before using Celtic salt:

  • Measure Carefully: Due to its larger grain size, a teaspoon of Celtic salt is less dense than table salt. So, adjust quantities accordingly to avoid over-salting.
  • Grind as Needed: You can grind Celtic salt in a salt mill to get a finer texture.
  • Store Properly: Keep Celtic salt in a dry, airtight container to prevent it from clumping due to its natural moisture content.

So, now that we know the most important points about Celtic salt, we should learn about Himalayan salt too to be able to compare Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt.

What Is Himalayan Salt?

Himalayan salt, or Himalayan pink salt, is a type of rock salt known for its distinctive pink color. The Himalayan salt’s color ranges from white to various shades of pink and red, depending on the mineral content, i.e., sodium chloride, and trace amounts of about 84 minerals and elements, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron, and less common ones like strontium and molybdenum.

Himalayan salt crystals are usually larger and less processed than common table salt, as they retain more of their natural mineral content, which is mainly because of where they are sourced.

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Where Is Himalayan Salt Sourced From?

Himalayan salt is mainly mined from the Khewra Salt Mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan. This mine, located near the foothills of the Salt Range in the Himalayas, is one of the largest and oldest salt mines in the world.

The Khewra Salt Mine is in Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Islamabad, and has been in operation for thousands of years, with historical records showing its use dates back to the time of Alexander the Great.

This mine produces up to 387,747 tons of Himalayan pink salt annually and contains vast reserves of salt, estimated to be in the range of 82 million tons​.

The salt in the Khewra mine was formed over 250 million years ago from the evaporation of ancient bodies of water. The unique geological conditions in the region resulted in the crystallization of the salt, which is rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Himalayan Salt Mineral Content and Flavor

Himalayan salt is popular not only for its unique mineral content but also for its distinctive flavor. Himalayan salt has a milder and more subtle flavor than traditional table salt, and many describe it as less harsh or salty than common table salt.

This special taste comes from its rich mineral profile. Although different brands of Himalayan salt contain varying amounts of minerals, they generally contain 80 different minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.

These minerals are also responsible for Himalayan salt’s pink color and its health benefits.

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The Benefits of Himalayan Salt

Himalayan salt can provide the following health benefits.

  • Reducing Blood Pressure: Himalayan salt contains trace minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, which can help reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension [14].
  • Electrolyte Balance: The mineral content in Himalayan salt can help maintain electrolyte balance in the body, which is especially important for athletes [15].
  • Respiratory Health: Studies show that inhaling salt-infused air can positively affect respiration, helping patients with conditions like asthma or allergies [16].
  • Skin Health: Studies suggest that Himalayan salt baths or scrubs can improve skin health due to their mineral content and exfoliating properties. Also, bathing in the salt solution can improve skin barrier function and stratum corneum hydration, and decrease skin roughness and inflammation [17].

However, there might be some side effects to consuming large amounts of Himalayan salt in some individuals, especially those with pre-existing health concerns.

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The Side Effects of Himalayan Salt

  • Hypertension and Cardiovascular Diseases: Various studies show that consuming salt in excess can lead to hypertension and various cardiovascular diseases like heart failure because of the negative effects of sodium content in salt [18] [19].
  • Lead Poisoning: The FDA recommends consuming about 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon) each day but you need to consume over 30 grams of salt (about 6 teaspoons) every day so that it can impact your nutrient intake. However, consuming this amount of salt per day can cause various health problems, including lead poisoning and heart problems [20]. 
  • Kidney Issues: Studies indicate that consuming salt can significantly decrease kidney function, especially in individuals with underlying kidney conditions [21] [22].
  • Osteoporosis: Research shows that consuming high amounts of salt can destroy the microstructure of bone by increasing bone resorption, affect some ion channels of bone tissue, and even lead to osteoporosis [23] [24].
  • Gastric Issues: Excessive salt consumption can irritate the stomach lining, leading to gastric issues such as gastric cancer, gastritis, or ulcers [25] [26].

So, to avoid the potential side effects of Himalayan salt, it’s important to know how to use it in our diet.

How to Use Himalayan Salt?

Himalayan salt can be used in 

  • Cooking and Seasoning: Himalayan salt can be used to enhance the flavor of both savory and sweet dishes. Sprinkle it over grilled vegetables, meats, or seafood, or use it to season soups, salads, and sauces.
  • Brining and Curing: Due to its mineral content and unique flavor, Himalayan salt is often used in brining and curing meats, fish, and even vegetables. The salt helps to draw out moisture while infusing the food with flavor, resulting in tender and flavorful dishes. It's mostly used for making gravlax, pickles, and other preserved foods.
  • Finishing: Himalayan salt can be used as a finishing salt, sprinkled over dishes just before serving to add a final touch of flavor and texture. Its large crystals and delicate flavor make it ideal for salads, grilled meats, or chocolate desserts.
  • Bathing and Spa Treatments: Himalayan salt is also used in bath salts and spa treatments for its therapeutic properties. Dissolving Himalayan salt in warm bath water can help relax muscles, soothe skin conditions, and promote detoxification. Additionally, Himalayan salt scrubs and body treatments are used in spas for exfoliation and skin rejuvenation.

Now that we know enough about both salts, we can compare and contrast Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt to find out which one can be a better option.

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The Differences Between Celtic Salt vs. Himalayan Salt

Celtic salt and Himalayan salt are both natural, unrefined salts that offer unique flavors and mineral profiles. However, there are differences between the two, including their sources, mineral compositions, and geographic origins. You can easily compare Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt in the following table.

AspectCeltic SaltHimalayan Salt
Source Harvested from tidal ponds along the Atlantic coast of France Mined from ancient salt deposits in the Himalayan mountains, primarily in Pakistan
Processing Hand-harvested and naturally evaporated under the sun and wind Mined from underground deposits and hand-crushed or ground
Mineral Composition Contains sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iodine, zinc, and trace elements Rich in sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and trace minerals
Color Greyish hue due to mineral and clay sediment Pink color due to iron oxide minerals
Flavor Briny, slightly mineral-rich with a subtle sweetness Milder flavor with hints of sweetness and minerality
Texture Slightly moist and coarse-grained Fine or coarse crystals

Another important factor differentiating Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt is their magnesium content. Magnesium is an important nutrient affecting muscles and nerve function, energy production, bone health, blood sugar regulation, cardiovascular health, protein synthesis, mood regulation, immune system function, and electrolyte balance.

Celtic Salt vs. Himalayan Salt: Magnesium Content

The table below shows the differences between Celtic and Himalayan salt about their magnesium content.

FeatureCeltic SaltHimalayan Salt
Source Tidal ponds along the Atlantic coast of France Ancient salt deposits in the Himalayan mountains
Magnesium Content Range Approximately 1 Approximately 1
Factors Influencing Content Harvesting location, processing techniques Mining location, geological factors
Nutritional Note Natural source of magnesium but not significant compared to other foods (e.g., meat, nuts, seeds, whole grains) Natural source of magnesium but not significant compared to other foods (e.g., meat, nuts, seeds, whole grains)

The final point we need to consider when comparing Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt is their effect on blood pressure.

Celtic Salt vs. Himalayan Salt: High Blood Pressure

When it comes to high blood pressure, both Celtic salt and Himalayan salt share a similar sodium content to table salt, which is a concern for individuals with hypertension or at risk of developing high blood pressure.

Let’s compare the effects of these two salts on blood pressure factors in the following table.

AspectCeltic SaltHimalayan Salt
Sodium Content Contains sodium chloride, similar to table salt Contains sodium chloride, similar to table salt
Impact on Blood Pressure High sodium content can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure High sodium content can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure
Additional Minerals Offers additional minerals and trace elements Offers additional minerals and trace elements
Health Considerations Excessive intake can lead to or exacerbate hypertension Excessive intake can lead to or exacerbate hypertension
Recommended Intake American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day, ideally 1,500 mg/day for those with hypertension American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day, ideally 1,500 mg/day for those with hypertension
Dietary Approach Use herbs, spices, and other flavor enhancers to reduce salt intake; emphasize a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy Use herbs, spices, and other flavor enhancers to reduce salt intake; emphasize a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy

So, comparing Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt, we found that they both contain essential minerals and potential health benefits and side effects. But can we choose one of them as better?

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Which One Is Better?

Deciding whether Himalayan salt or Celtic salt is better depends on various factors, including personal preferences, culinary applications, and nutritional considerations.

Both salts contain various minerals and elements, which contribute to their unique flavors and health benefits. Himalayan salt is popular for its mild, subtle flavor with hints of sweetness, making it suitable for various culinary applications.

But Celtic salt has a briny, slightly mineral-rich flavor that some find appealing. The choice between the two depends on your taste preferences and the desired flavor profile in dishes.

Himalayan salt is available in fine or coarse crystals, while Celtic salt has a moist, coarse texture. Finer crystals are suitable for precise seasoning and coarse textures provide crunch in dishes.

While Himalayan salt has gained popularity and is readily available in many grocery stores and specialty shops, Celtic salt may be less widely distributed but can still be found in health food stores and online shops.

Conclusion

So, your choice in the Celtic salt vs. Himalayan salt debate is based on your needs and preferences. Also, remember to consume any kind of salt in moderation to maintain a healthy heart and body.

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