What is green salt? Health benefits, flavor and more

Trying to reduce your sodium intake? Going cold turkey can be a tall order. Processed foods and restaurant meals contain high amounts of salt, and cooking without salt at home presents challenges for family members who appreciate the taste. Fortunately, there may be a simple solution: green salt.

The internet is abuzz about this alternative to table salt. Maybe 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 bin), and contains several additional nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, chlorophyll (hence the green color), vitamin B3, iodine, some protein and fibre. But is it worth buying?

What is green salt?

Green salt is dehydrated glasswort, or sea asparagus. Sea asparagus has many other names — pickleweed, glasswort, navy bean, crow’s feet leaves, hamcho and glasswort – all of which describe a fleshy, rod-shaped plant that grows in salty wetlands, marshes, and sea shores. It’s been a long time used in korean foods (as a flavor enhancer) and traditional medicine (as a treatment for poor digestion and diabetes).

Salicornia growing in dried clayShutterstock / Harry Wedzinga

To make green salt, sea asparagus is dehydrated and then ground into a fine powder. The nutrients it contains 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 example, a 2009 study by the Medicinal Food Journal found that glasswort extract had antioxidant properties in laboratory experiments. A 2022 study published in Antioxidants showed that the antioxidants in glasswort were effective in reducing inflammation of certain white blood cells.

Additional research suggests sea asparagus has anti-diabetic properties. A 2008 study by the Korean Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found that a specific plant nutrient (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 Salicornia salt did not raise blood pressure unlike table salt. In fact, Salicornia salt even had a protective effect on rodent kidneys and livers.

Of course, the results of animal studies should be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended!). The experiments were performed on rats, not humans, so more research needs to be done to back up these findings. Still, the sea asparagus research so far is promising.

What does green salt taste like?

According to YouTuber Chris Hamilton, who reviewed the product by TryGreenSalt.com earlier this year, “it’s salty but not ultra salty”.

Hamilton admits he doesn’t quite taste like salt. “There’s a little – a slight hint of seafood taste because it’s…from a salt marsh near the sea, apparently,” he shares. “But it’s not bad. You probably have to use a lot to satisfy that super salt craving.

In other words, you can 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, it comes down to diligence. Hamilton thinks green salt is a good transition tool for weaning off regular salt. He recommends filling a salt shaker with equal parts table salt and green salt to start.

As a bonus, the Green Salt company claims the flavor is mild enough for cooking. Just be aware that it can make some baked goods look a little green!

What’s the latest takeout?

So, is green salt worth the purchase? A 9-ounce bag is $22 (Purchased at TryGreenSalt.com). It’s a high price to pay when regular iodized salt costs 40 cents for 26 ounces. Still, it can help you reduce your sodium intake without having to deprive yourself of cold turkey, and the extra nutrients can boost your health. So it might be a good idea for you to try sea asparagus.

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