Sea salt

Dear Alice,

Why is sea salt so much better for you than regular salt? It contains almost as much sodium. Is it ok for people with high blood pressure to use sea salt? Also, kosher salt has less sodium... is that also better for you than regular salt?

Dear Reader,

Who knew the selection of salts could be so satiating? Kosher salt, sea salt, and table (regular) salt all have the same basic nutritional value, despite the fact that sea salt is often marketed as the more natural or healthier choice. In other words, the chemical compositions of various types of salts are all 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. Therefore, the health effects of the three types of salt are generally the same. The differences between these three varieties are mostly limited to taste, texture, and granule size.

Kosher salt tends to be larger in grain size. As a result, kosher salt may have less sodium per teaspoon than regular table salt. Kosher salt contains no preservatives, and can be derived from either seawater or underground sources. The name “kosher” comes from the koshering process performed on the salt. Kosher salt is particularly good for preserving foods because its large crystals draw moisture out of meats and other foods more effectively than other salts.

True to its namesake, sea salt is derived from seawater. While sea salt may not be larger in grain size than table salt, it contains more minerals due to its deep-sea origins. This is because sea salt is harvested from evaporated seawater and receives little or no processing. These minerals may slightly flavor and color the salt. Sea salts may contain less sodium per teaspoon than table salt. Here’s a tip: it might not be worth forking out extra money for sea salt if you’re going to cook or dissolve it in liquid, as this may cause it to lose its unique flavor.

Regular table salt is mined from underground salt deposits, and includes a small portion of calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent added to prevent clumping. It possesses very fine crystals and a sharp taste. Because of its fine grain, a single teaspoon of table salt contains more salt than a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt.

Your body needs only a very tiny amount of salt to stay healthy. Most people ingest too much salt, mostly from eating processed foods. If you are concerned about the effects of salt on high blood pressure, the following tips can help you limit your sodium intake:

  • Go light on the saltshaker! Try to refrain from adding a lot of salt to your food.
  • Pay attention to the ingredients in processed foods, which can be chock full of salt. Scan the ingredients for keywords such as soda, sodium, or the symbol “Na”.
  • Spice up your food — in a different way! Instead of adding salt, try using herbs (fresh or dried) or spices.

So there you have it. Kosher salt, sea salt, and table salt all contain the same basic nutritional values. As for any other information you hear regarding the topic at hand — take it with a grain of salt!

Originally published Jul 06, 2015

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