The Paleo List Answers:Is Iodized Salt Paleo?
For many of us, iodine and table salt bring up memories of little orange fundraising boxes for UNICEF, and their programs for international iodization of salt. We’re taught that iodine deficiency is common in impoverished countries, and leads to mental deficiencies and brain damage in fetuses and young children. It can also lead to thyroid problems in children and adults around the world. To prevent this, UNICEF adds iodine to salt. Regular table salt is almost always iodized, and there are many brands of sea salt that are also iodized. With all this iodization of salt going around, it’s important to find out if it is Paleo.
What is Iodized Salt?
Regular table salt is normally mined from mineral rock deposits and underground salt mines. It is heavily processed to remove minerals, often bleached, treated with an anti-caking agent, and normally fortified with iodine.
Sea salt is generally mined by evaporating the water from the ocean or saltwater lakes. It contains trace minerals, including low levels of iodine, and is less likely to be processed. It does occasionally contain anti-caking agents and is sometimes fortified with iodine.
Just because it is sea salt, or because it is coarse and comes with a fancy grinder, definitely doesn’t mean it is free of non-Paleo additives such as anti-caking agents. Always check the label.
Is Iodized Salt Paleo?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer for this one. Iodized salt falls into the gray area of Paleo. No, cavemen were not eating iodized salt, but if you’re not getting enough iodine, you run the risk of developing other health issues. It is an additive, but it’s not completely unnatural. If you want to stay strictly Paleo, I’d suggest getting your daily dose of iodine from other sources, such as seaweed (specifically kelp), but remember that most levels of iodine in foods besides seaweed vary greatly. A common solution is to use natural sea salt for normal meals, and use iodized sea salt in Paleo baking to make sure you’re still getting some iodine in your diet. You should still avoid regular table salt due to the processing and bleaching.
Are you struggling with which foods are Paleo? Do you need help planning some Paleo meals? Check out this great Paleo cookbook: