Dear Dietician: Sea salt a tastier option, but not healthier
I have been using sea salt for most of my cooking. It’s more natural than table salt, and I believe it is a healthier alternative. My husband challenges me on this point. What do you think?
Many Americans opt for sea salt with the idea, “It is more natural, so it must be better for you.” According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly two-thirds of Americans have tried to decrease their salt intake. Furthermore, in a survey conducted by the AHA, 61% of people believe sea salt is a lower-sodium alternative to table salt.
Sea salt is made from evaporated seawater; whereas, table salt is mined from underground deposits. Table salt is processed, and in doing so, minerals are removed. Then ingredients are added to prevent clumping. Both sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium, about 40% by weight.
While it is true that sea salt contains small amounts of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, these nutrients are plentiful in other foods. Potassium is found in oranges, potatoes, and tomatoes. Calcium is in dairy products, fortified soy and almond milk, and vegetables, such as broccoli and kale. Magnesium can be found in whole grains, spinach, and quinoa.
Iodine is added to most table salt to aid in thyroid health. Unless sea salt is fortified with iodine, it does not contain a sufficient amount to prevent thyroid problems. If you choose sea salt regularly, be sure to obtain iodine-rich foods each day in your diet. These foods include eggs, shellfish, cod, tuna, and dairy products.
The true differences in sea salt compared to table salt are its texture and taste. Sea salt has a coarse texture and a more robust flavor, and some prefer it for these reasons. The bottom line is there is no nutritional advantage of choosing sea salt over table salt.
Until next time, be healthy!
Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC, aka Dear Dietitian, is an award-winning dietitian based in Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.