As you walk through the baking aisle at the grocery store, you may find yourself perplexed when trying to purchase an ingredient as simple as salt. Do I choose sea salt that my friend told me was healthier, or do I stick with table salt? Is there a benefit to one or the other and what distinguishes them?
First and foremost, sea salt and table salt have very little chemical makeup. They both contain at least 97.5% sodium chloride. The difference lies in the way they are produced, which results in different appearance, textures, and taste. Sea salt is derived directly from the ocean or sea and is mostly unrefined. The salt water is evaporated then dried for extraction of the crystals. Because it is unrefined, it contains trace amounts of other minerals. These trace minerals are thought to be the reason it is more flavorful and more natural, or “healthier” in some eyes. Most gourmet chefs love the taste and texture of sea salt.
Table salt is the more common type of salt. It is extracted from salt mines and heavily refined. During this process, most of the trace minerals are removed, substances are added to keep it from clumping, and Iodine is added. This originated back in the 1920s when people were thought to be deficient in Iodine. This trace element is essential to our bodies but only needed in small amounts.
By weight, sea salt and table salt have the same nutrient value. For one teaspoon of salt, there is 2,300 mg of sodium. It is recommended to limit your sodium intake to 1500-2400 mg per day, depending on any medical conditions that may further limit your daily allowance. For the average American, we consume around 3400 mg per day, and up to 75% of that is added by the manufactures. You will get enough sodium through the foods you eat. To keep healthy, you may want to think twice the next time you pick up a salt shake of any kind.
Resources: Click to find out more about the effect that salt has on health-WASH (World Action on Salt and Health)