Picture source: Flickr. By: D Sharon PruittQuestion:
Is sea salt better/ healthier than regular table salt?
Not really. Although it’s marked as “natural,” the advantage is insignificant. And the buzz about seafood and omega-3 being good for health should not give this food a healthy reputation.
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Sea salt is not better than regualr salt. They are the same. Here’s why:
- Sea salt and table salt have the same chemical composition. Chemically, they are both sodium and chloride. They both have the same effect on hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease. A low salt intake, regardless of the type, is recommended to prevent and/or treat those diseases.
- Sea salt lacks iodine, table salt can be readily found with iodine. Iodine is needed for a healthy thyroid gland function, and its deficiency leads to goiter, enlargement in the thyroid gland. Goiter was common during World War I and when iodized table salt became available in he 1920’a, the prevalence of this deficiency dropped. Websites that market sea salt claim that there’s no need for iodine anymore. However, iodine is very low in plant foods because in some geographical areas, it has leached out of the soil due to erosion (rain, snow and glaciation) and was deposited in the oceans. Compared to all parts of the world, the US has low rates of iodine deficiency, mainly due to the availability and acceptability of iodized table salt. However, in Italy, where only 3% of households use iodized table salts, rates of iodine deficiency are much higher (also in all Europe and Mediterranean countries).
- Other minerals are insignificant. Websites that sell sea salt claim that it has a higher percent of healthy minerals, especially magnesium. However, these minerals are found in trace amounts that do not justify the addition of sea salt, or large amounts of it, to the diet. Instead. it’s more important to focus on good sources of minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
The processing of these salts is different: sea salt comes from the sea and is allowed to dry under the sun whereas table salt comes from mines and goes through a boiling process. However, when it comes to human health and metabolism, table or sea, salt is salt. And a restricted amount, even for healthy individuals, is recommended to prevent heart disease complications.
How much? No more than 2,400 mg sodium each day.
Sea salt has a different texture and taste. If this is something you prefer in your cooking, don’t let the word “sea” fool you. Practice moderation! You can also look for iodized sea salt.