Small Bites: Is sea salt worth its … salt?

According to the American Heart Association, 61 percent of people surveyed nationwide about heart health said that they believed sea salt was a low-sodium alternative to table salt.

What's the skinny? Both contain the same amount of sodium, says the AHA, meaning that you can't exactly eat it by the boatload. The minerals present in the sea salt, however, are a different matter.

Salt that is highly processed is stripped of many of the naturally occurring minerals within it. Natural trace minerals and elements that are found in salt harvested from seawater — minerals such as magnesium and naturally occurring calcium — are said to help the body maintain electrolytes and self-regulate body fluids.

WNC's Selina Naturally Sea Salt sells a Hawaiian salt, for example, that's extracted from 2,000 feet below the surface off the coast of Kona. The volcanic activity that created the Hawaiian coast along with deep currents, create mineral-rich water that contains potassium and selenium and trace elements like copper, iron and zinc, according to the company.

But when it come down to it, the salt just tastes good. The local company carries a large amount of salts, including a gray variety, Portuguese sea salt and fluer de sel. Xpress had the chance to sample some of the company's flavored salts, including a celery salt that makes for a great Bloody Mary, a rosemary salt that we rubbed on grilled lamb chops and an impressive smoked salt that's addictive when rubbed on meat, seafood and vegetables (we’d practically eat it by the spoonful, even though our doctor would probably frown on that).

Selina Naturally sea salts are available through the company website (http://www.celticseasalt.com) and in most local natural foods stores. 

Garlic smoked-salt shrimp skewers, adapted from a Selina Naturally recipe (makes 4 skewers):
4 wooden skewers
1 pound peeled shrimp with tails left on (heads on, if you can find them)
2 limes juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Smoked Celtic Sea Salt (or more to taste)
½ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil for marinade
1 tablespoon oil for cooking

Mix lime juice, smoked, pepper, garlic and oil in a small bowl and marinate shrimp for 30 minutes to an hour. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill until done or cook in a hot sautee pan on medium-to-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

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