Salt of the Earth

Jasen Jonas is investigating the health benefits of gourmet salts.

Gourmet salts are one of today’s hottest food trends, thanks in part to claims that they can improve your health. But are they really any better for you than plain old table salt?

That’s what Jasen Jonas ’22 aims to find out. A physics major, he’s investigating the nutritional composition of gourmet salts this summer with support from Elmhurst University’s Creative and Scholarly Endeavors (CASE) program.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the special health benefits of certain foods,” Jonas says. “The latest claim is that gourmet salt—like pink Himalayan salt—is better for you than regular table salt because it has vital nutrients and minerals. My goal is to find out whether that’s true.”

Working under the supervision of Associate Professor Kimberly Lawler-Sagarin, Jonas is analyzing the trace mineral content of 14 different samples of gourmet salt. In conjunction with his project, a group of first- and second-year students are testing the samples’ potassium levels. In addition to assessing health claims, the researchers hope to develop a freshman-level lab experience for use in chemistry courses.

Jonas says he’s also excited about the opportunity to experience the scientific process firsthand. “It took me a while to get to college, but now that I know how much I enjoy the academic setting, I’m hoping to go on to graduate school,” he says. “This experience will help me develop a scientific mind.”

As an adult student, Jonas didn’t take the traditional route to college. After becoming a father at age 19, he put his education on hold. Now, with three children ranging in age from 3 to nearly 21, he’s reclaiming his academic future.

“When I was younger I never gave much thought to my future,” Jonas says. “But now, I want a job that has meaning. Going back to school changed my outlook on life, and now I can’t wait to see what I’ll do in the future.”

Learn More About Elmhurst’s Physics Program

Posted June 28, 2019

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