Sea salt and table salt are both salt, right? So how could one be better for you than another? As sea salt grows more and more popular, the claims of marketing, albeit mostly indirect, have begun to draw a distinct correlation between sea salt and healthier dietary choices. However, as with most things, marketing is a couple steps removed from reality.
If you see an all-natural, organic, etc., product with salt on it, it’s likely going to be sea salt. While you may not see anything on the packaging specifically stating as much, the connection that sea salt is thereby a healthier choice is one your mind can make on its own (thanks to the proximity of other healthy items). Is sea salt a matter of health, then, or just one of taste?
It’s easiest to see the answer by simply defining our terms. What exactly is sea salt anyway, and how is it different from table salt? Table salt is usually taken from ground sources, like salt mines. Sea salt is any salt taken directly from salt water. It involves less processing than table salt, and, as such, retains a more coarse, irregular shape and texture.
When something is more processed, the rule of thumb is that it is less healthy. Highly processed foods often have added salt and added sugar, especially fructose. It’s easy to equate the less-processed sea salt with health compared to the factory-perfect look of table salt; however, the actual ingredients of salt tell another story.
When it comes to cooking, everyone has their own preferences, and you may prefer sea salt over table salt 9 times out of 10 because of its texture. That’s fine. But when it comes to chemistry, things get a bit more objective.
Sea salt and table salt are both sodium chloride, i.e., they both contain about 40% sodium. Sea salt can retain trace minerals from the ocean, but not to any degree to make a difference in your health. Basically, salt is salt.
If you’re looking to sea salt as a means of eating healthier, you’re fooling yourself.
First off, you’d do a lot better focusing on reducing your sugar intake. Salt is an important part of our diet. There is some debate over exactly how much salt we need, but it’s safe to say that we definitely need some.
Eating the right amount of salt is less of a concern if you just eat a healthier diet overall. A varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and protein is part of the Nutrition program. By worrying less about specific calorie counts, and using pragmatic, proven approaches to better diet, you can still eat lots of delicious foods without worrying about the specific salt content.
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