Thank you, everyone, for the nice comments about my day of chocolate! May you all make it to Pure soon for some indulgence of your own.
My raw question of the week comes from Mark, who writes:
I have been using sea salt lately, often sprinkling some on cantaloupe, and/or mixing it in with avocado guacamole. Over the weekend I was reading something about it being mostly minerals, which is good, but lacking in iodine, which is supposed to be necessary. I was thinking I should incorporate some iodized table salt back into my diet, but then I got to wondering . . . well surely there must be a natural source of it.
Do you have any information on this topic? Do we need to use iodized table salt just to get an amount of iodine?
Awesome question, Mark!
First of all, it’s great to use sea salt! It’s an excellent alternative to regular table salt (I also love Himalayan crystal salt). So keep it up.
But you’re right to be curious. What is iodine? It’s an essential element that assists the thyroid gland in producing thyroid hormones, which in turn effect the body’s metabolic rate and protein production. Thyroid deficiency causes numerous health complaints, ranging from hypothyroidism (characterized by fatigue, depression, weight gain, dry skin, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, and irregular menstrual cycles) to developmental problems in the brain. A very common symptom of thyroid deficiency is the appearance of goiters: in the mid 1920’s, women and men in the Great Lakes and areas of Canada began showing pronounced iodine deficiency, and the region was coined “the goiter belt.” This is when industrial salt makers began enriching table salt with the nutrient. Even today, though, iodine deficiency remains a public concern: the American Thyroid Association estimates that about 40% of the world’s population remains at risk for it.
Today, thankfully, none of us are limited to commercial table salt as our iodine source. There are many of rich sources of iodine out there, most notably one of my favorite foods: seaweed! Seaweeds (or sea vegetables, they’re more lovingly known) are a rich source of iodine. One serving of Atlantic dulse contains a whopping 243% of your daily recommended allowance of iodine; arame and nori sheets contain 100% and 276%, respectively. And sea veggies are worth eating for more than just the iodine: they contain a rich range of minerals, and they’re also great sources of vitamin K, folate, and other B vitamins, including B-12.
How to use sea veggies? Well, most of us are used to eating nori with our sushi. I also love raw nori strips (widely available at health food stores—just look for “untoasted”) served over salads. Arame is a very palatable sea vegetable, and it makes great salads, especially mixed with shredded carrot. But my favorite sea veggie is, without a doubt, dulse, which has a smoky, salty flavor that enhances salads and soups. You can buy dulse strips and toss them in with salads where you might once have added bacon bits, or you can but it in a flake form that looks like this:
And use it in place of salt.
I really urge you all to try out more sea vegetables, and I’ll be sure to include some relevant recipes. But if you can’t get into them, don’t worry, there are other rich sources of iodine out there. These include all salt water seafood (trout, lobster, haddock, shrimp), some fortified dairy products, and vegetables grown in iodine rich soil, which are typically asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, swiss chard, and turnip greens
So, Mark, there’s no reason to ditch the sea salt you love. Begin exploring sea veggies for your body’s iodine needs.
And keep the questions coming, everyone! You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org: I love to hear what you’re curious about.