Is Sea Salt a Healthy Choice?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2729-1177123_salt_ball_from_the_dead_sea.jpgMany restaurants and packaged foods now advertise that their food is made with sea salt as if to grab the attention of the consumer.

Perhaps we associate sea salt with higher quality ingredients, a more natural product, or a lower sodium choice. But, is sea salt really any different than regular iodized table salt?

Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

Sea salt comes from salt water and is the product that is leftover after the water is evaporated. Table salt comes from rock salt. The main difference between table salt and sea salt is that sea salt has a higher mineral content and does not contain anti-caking agents like table salt. Sea salt is less processed and has more texture. In addition, the granules of sea salt are slightly larger than the soft, fine granules of table salt. Of course, table salt is enriched with iodine which is essential to thyroid health. Sea salt iodine amounts can vary, but it’s usually on the low end.

Sodium Content

The nutrition facts of sea salt are almost identical to table salt. Both salts have the exact same sodium content with about 2300 mg per teaspoon. One teaspoon is the most you should have in the day. If you have high blood pressure, it would be more crucial to watch your sodium intake. There are new recommendations and studies showing sodium intake should be limited to 1600 mg for those with hypertension.

Cooking

Many chefs prefer to use sea salt in cooking because of the slight flavor difference. Sea salt has a more distinct mineral flavor. When cooking, it takes longer for the sea salt to dissolve into your food. Some even say that they use less salt when adding sea salt to their food because the granules are larger and they can taste the salt better. This is the only possible health benefit of using sea salt.

In general, it is better not to add additional salt to foods because so many of our foods these days have plenty of added salt.

9 Comments

  1. Tonymanx

    I can only assume that sea salt is better than table salt because it does have some added minerals in it. How beneficial that is is open to debate (or solid proof). But what I can say is the quantities of salt needed vary greatly depending on location, time of year and activity. One cannot (and I really mean cannot) state what a person needs without knowing those things. I live in LA. I workout a lot or work out side a lot. I play soccer in the summer. The sweat pours off me. My sodium needs are nothing like a person who lives in a cold climate, does not exercise or work in hot factory. As I do not eat TV dinners I have to supplement my diet with salt tablets. How correct is that? Well if I do not I get leg cramps, head aches and general lack of energy. The salt almost immediately fixes those things and then I am off and running again (literally!) It is wrong to recommend amounts to the general public. Salt is a life saving if you need it but of course you can also ingest too much as a lot of people appear to do.

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  2. T. Kallmyer

    I think you all are forgetting that the majority of Americans eat packaged food. This article really wasn’t written for the few of our readers who eat 100% healthy. It was to help those that don’t make better choices as they move towards healthier eating.

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  3. musajen

    It almost seems like this blog is trying to push back and cling to conventional dietary wisdom, despite recent studies calling to question much of the convention. It’s a good way to become irrelevant.

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  4. Melina

    In general, it is better not to add additional salt to foods because so many of our foods these days have plenty of added salt.

    Only if you’re using packaged foods!

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  5. Spectra

    “In general, it is better not to add additional salt to foods because so many of our foods these days have plenty of added salt”–well, unless you cook with a lot of fresh foods that actually DON’T have added salt. I add salt to foods I cook–meat needs salt and pepper to taste good, fresh veggies taste amazing with a small sprinkling of salt and garlic and herbs. The foods that you don’t need to add salt to would be the processed foods that DO have added sodium.

    That being said, I generally use kosher salt when cooking because I can’t usually get sea salt in my grocery store and I don’t feel like mail-ordering it and paying extra. Although, I must say that the flavor of sea salt is amazing. Iodized table salt tastes a little bit bitter.

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    • SmoledMan

      Trader Joes sells kosher sea salt.

      Reply
  6. Ryan

    The link between salt and disease is very weak. Scientific American just posted an article about the history of it. There may even be an increase in heart disease risk by decreasing salt. Also, I’ve heard there is evidence that reducing salt can create insulin resistance.

    That said, I use the Celtic Gray Sea Salt. I see other sea salts that look white, but mine is fairly dark gray, so I suspect there is some refining. Also, I looked at the mineral analysis by weight of my sea salt, and I actually have to add 15% more to recipes to get the same amount of actual NaCl.

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    • SmoledMan

      It’s probably people that already have elevated blood pressure that should not be over-consuming sodium. But I’m pretty sure sodium is not the cause of it.

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  7. Linda Szymanski

    Your assessment, while accurate in most respects, did not address the value of the minerals that you mentioned in sea salt and their synergistic compliment to the sodium in sea salt for working within the body to help keep us healthy. These minerals are in the same exact proportions as those found in amniotic fluid and in our blood- I think this is an amazing “coincidence”. Table salt is a dead food, highly processed, chemically stripped of its minerals (these minerals have then been sold for MORE than the value of the salt itself- now a by-product), bleached and chemically declumped it is a rather nasty food additive. No wonder we are all suffering various maladies from being over-salted and under nourished! Research by M.D.’s who practice more natural and homeopathic medicine, has shown that their patient’s heart conditions and blood pressure, for example, improve remarkably upon adding sea salt into their diets- and there are many other conditions that improve as well. Sodium per se is not the enemy in our foods- it is too much sodium. I rarely eat highly processed foods and I think that trend is growing- people are increasingly trying to eat fresh and therefore NOT getting this over abundance of sodium. My rule of thumb: EAT NATURAL, EAT FRESH and sea salt is a perfect choice for getting the minute trace minerals we need and the sodium we also need in the proper proportions.

    Reply