By Mary Parsons, RD
Question: Is sea salt healthier than regular table salt?
Good question! To guide your decision about which salt to use, let’s talk about the differences between the two.
Sea salt is evaporated directly from ocean water, with minimal processing involved. So how does this make a nutritional impact? Because the ocean isn’t a pure solution of sodium chloride, the end product retains trace amounts of other marine nutrients, including magnesium, calcium and potassium. While this is arguably a benefit, the reality is that sea salt supplies a pretty insignificant amount of these nutrients compared to what you might naturally consume as part of a balanced, varied diet.
Table salt is a refined product, which in the course of its processing, is stripped of any minerals that may have been present in its unrefined state. Anti-caking agents are generally added to maintain a smooth texture, and table salt is also fortified with iodine, a nutrient essential to thyroid health. Sea salt is generally not iodine-fortified, although certain brands do offer this feature. Using iodized salt is one way to be sure that you’re consuming enough iodine, but know that you don’t have to depend on it; it’s also possible to meet your daily requirements with food sources (like dairy, eggs, seafood, and soy) or certain multivitamins.
If you’re actively watching your sodium intake to control your blood pressure, be aware that sea salt is still salt – it has the same sodium content as any other variety. That being said, the good news is that sea salt tends to give more “bang for your buck” when it comes to flavor. Many people find sea salt to be more flavorful – likely due to its mineral content – and often use less of it than table salt when seasoning foods. Also, sea salt tends to be more coarsely ground. This can help because larger salt crystals hold more air between them, and when measuring, less salt will fit into the same spoon! So perhaps the best reason to choose sea salt is to help develop a habit to use less salt than you normally would.