Trying to reduce your sodium intake? Going cold turkey can be a tall order. Processed foods and restaurant meals contain salt in high quantities, and cooking without salt at home presents challenges for family members who enjoy the taste. Fortunately, there may be a simple solution: green salt.
The internet is abuzz with talk of this table salt alternative. Perhaps it’s because it’s so unusual. The product is powdery and green, sold in a brown paper bag (as opposed to a traditional grinder or salt tub), and comes with several extra nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, chlorophyll (hence the green color), vitamin B3, iodine, a little protein, and fiber. But is it worth buying?
What is green salt?
Green salt is dehydrated Salicornia, or sea asparagus. Sea asparagus has many other names — pickleweed, glasswort, sea beans, crow’s foot greens, hamcho, and samphire — all of which describe a fleshy, rod-like plant that grows in salty wetlands, marshes, and sea shores. It has long been used in Korean foods (as a flavor enhancer) and traditional medicine (as a treatment for poor digestion and diabetes).
To make green salt, sea asparagus is dehydrated and then ground into a fine powder. The nutrients inside it come directly from the plant — nothing else is added to the product.
What are the benefits of sea asparagus?
Some research shows that sea asparagus (Salicornia) has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. For instance, a 2009 study from the Journal of Medicinal Food found that Salicornia extract had antioxidant properties in lab experiments. A 2022 study published in Antioxidants showed that the antioxidants in Salicornia were effective at reducing inflammation in certain white blood cells.
Additional research suggests that sea asparagus has anti-diabetic properties. A 2008 study from the Korean Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found that a specific nutrient in the plant (known as SP1) was linked to better sugar and insulin regulation in diabetic rats.
Another study published in Food and Function in 2015 tested the effects of Salicornia salt on blood pressure in rats. The researchers fed one group of rats traditional table salt, and another group Salicornia salt (in the same amount). They found that the Salicornia salt did not raise blood pressure while table salt did. In fact, the Salicornia salt even had a protective effect on the rodent kidneys and livers.
Of course, the results of animal studies must be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended!). The experiments were performed on rats, not humans, so more research must be done to support these findings. Still, the research on sea asparagus so far is promising.
What does green salt taste like?
According to YouTuber Chris Hamilton, who reviewed the product from TryGreenSalt.com earlier this year, “it’s salty but it’s not ultra salty.”
Hamilton admits that it doesn’t taste entirely like salt. “It’s got a little bit — a slight hint of a seafood taste because it’s … from a salt marsh close to the sea, apparently,” he shares. “But it’s not bad. You probably have to use a lot for it to satisfy that super salt craving.”
In other words, you may effectively eat the same amount of sodium if you add two shakes of green salt where you would normally add one shake of table salt. However, this comes down to diligence. Hamilton believes green salt to be a good transitional tool for weaning himself off of regular salt. He recommends filling up a salt shaker with equal parts table salt and green salt to start.
As an added bonus, the Green Salt company says that the flavor is mild enough for baking. Just know that it may turn some baked goods a little green!
What’s the final takeaway?
So, is green salt worth the purchase? One 9-ounce bag costs $22 (Buy from TryGreenSalt.com). That’s a steep price to pay when regular iodized salt costs 40 cents for 26 ounces. Still, it may help you lower your sodium intake without having to go cold turkey, and the additional nutrients may boost your health. It might therefore make sense for you to give sea asparagus a try.
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