Flavour is just one of salt's many positives

SaltSalt is the most important source of sodium.AP

Salt, the most important source of sodium, is needed to make food palatable and for the healthy functioning of the body. Besides adding flavour, salt also helps in food preservation. However, most of us consume far more salt or sodium than our bodies need.

There are several varieties of salt and it may be worth knowing the difference and their health benefits. Common varieties include table salt, rock salt, black salt, sea salt, kosher salt, low-sodium salt and epsom salt. Each form has differs in taste, colour, texture and nutrient profiles.

TABLE SALT: Table salt, a refined version of salt that comprises sodium and is devoid of other natural minerals. The salt goes through a refining process to remove other minerals from it. Table salt has fine grain texture and is mostly available in iodised forms, where the salt is artificially spray coated with iodine.

ROCK SALT: Known as sandha namak, Lahori namak, vrat ka namak or Pakistani namak, rock salt is unrefined and contains a large number of naturally occurring minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and fluorine. Excess fluorine is harmful to health. A recent study in Allahabad in 2009, compared different salts — low sodium, rock, iodised and non-idodised — on patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. It found that rock salt is more beneficial than other edible salts for patients with chronic kidney disease.

BLACK SALT: Commonly known as kala namak or sanchal, black salt is a type of Indian volcanic rock salt commonly used in Asia. Black salt consists primarily of sodium chloride, which provides the salty taste, while the iron sulphide provides its pinkish-grey colour and the hydrogen sulphide provides its distinctive smell. Black salt has one of the highest concentrations of fluoride and should be used sparingly and not on a regular basis as excessive fluoride is harmful to health.

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