Gray sea salt is the culinary salt which is harvested from evaporated seawater taken from the Atlantic Ocean along northern France's Brittany Coast. Himalayan pink salt is the culinary salt which is mined from underground deposits of rock salt in Pakistan's Himalayan mountains.
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Although interest in grey sea salt and Himalayan pink salt is relatively recent in American cuisine, both types of salt have long histories. Gray sea salt has been harvested in the Guérande region of France's Brittany Coast since the ninth century. Himalayan pink salt has been mined from Pakistan's Khewra salt mines in the Himalayan mountains since as early as the 13th century.
Gray sea salt is also known as "Celtic Sea salt," "Brittany sea salt" and "sel Gris," the French phrase for "grey salt." Gray sea salt gets its distinctive colour--ranging from light grey to slightly purplish grey--from the clay salt flats in the Guérande region of Brittany from which it is harvested. Himalayan pink salt is also known as "Pakistani pink salt," or simply "Himalayan salt." Himalayan pink salt gets its distinctive colour--ranging from pale pink to deep red--from varying amounts of iron oxide in the rock salt deposits.
Both grey sea salt and Himalayan pink salt are culinary salts used as flavour enhancers. Because it is mined from rock salt, Himalayan pink salt can also be cut into flat slabs and used as cookware, serving platters or simply decoration.
Both grey sea salt and Himalayan pink salt are available in a variety of grinds, ranging from extra coarse to fine. Himalayan pink salt is also available in slabs and blocks. Gray sea salt has a loose, clumpy texture due to a relatively high moisture content. Both types of salt are sold in their natural, unrefined states and retain trace amounts of other minerals that not only contribute to their signature colours but also impart subtle flavours to food.
According to Katherine Zeratsky, a registered and licensed dietitian at Mayoclinic.com, the essential nutritional benefit of salt is derived from sodium and chloride, the two minerals of salt's basic chemical composition (NaCl). All salts contain about the same amounts of sodium and chloride by weight. The additional trace minerals and elements found in unrefined sea salts and unrefined mined salts contribute to the flavour and colour of the salts but do not contribute significantly to their nutritional value. Most refined table salts, however, also have added iodine, an essential nutrient that is found in only minute amounts in unrefined salts.
Zeratsky recommends that healthy adults limit their sodium consumption to the range of 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day, regardless of the source of that sodium. People with hypertension as well as people prone to hypertension--a group that includes African-Americans and middle-aged persons and older--should keep their sodium consumption in the low end of that recommended range.
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