Sea salt: A healthier salt?

As a dietetic intern, I often find myself noticing people’s mealtime habits.  One of these is the use of sea salt. People are loading on the sea salt because they believe it’s the better-for-you version of table salt – lower in sodium and higher in healthful minerals.

What’s the truth? Is sea salt better for you? Let’s check it out.

Salt, Sodium – What’s the difference?

Table salt is sodium chloride. Salt is added to many processed and fast foods causing most Americans to consume too much salt and therefore too much sodium. And too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and increase risk of stomach cancer.

What’s the difference between Sea Salt and Table Salt?

One serving size of sea salt is larger in volume than one serving size of table salt because sea salt is coarser than table salt and its crystals are much larger. Here’s how they compare gram for gram:

sea salt = 320 mg of sodium

table salt = 388 mg sodium

The difference is not significant.  The problem here is that we are consuming too much sodium,* not what type of salt we’re eating.

Is there any reason to choose sea salt?

Sea salt is obtained from evaporated seawater and is minimally processed, meaning it contains the naturally occurring minerals found in seawater.  These extra minerals are not enough to add nutritional value to the product; but they can enhance the taste and texture.  If you want the real thing, look for 100% natural. True sea salt can be grey, white or pink in color.

Table salt goes through a refining process that involves high temperatures, chemical additives such as iodine and removal of naturally occurring minerals.  Table salt contains additional additives that prevent the substance from becoming clumpy.

I prefer 100% sea salt over table salt when available, I find it tastes better and enhances almost any dish needing salt.

But the bottom line: all salt is high sodium and we need to make sure we are aware of how much we’re consuming. Focusing on an overall healthy diet is key.

Try this sea salt containing recipe from the AICR Test Kitchen Steamed Halibut with Ginger and Green Beans. Do you use sea salt in your cooking?

 

*The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt daily and 1,500 mg for those who are 51 and older and other groups at risk. On average, Americans consume over 3,400 mg of sodium per day, over double the recommended daily intake for most.

This is a guest blog by Morgan V. Thom, B.S., AICR Dietetic Intern. Morgan is completing her dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut.


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