I love the small specialty shops in New York, NY. I find many interesting new trends there. Some of those trends follow the latest science and others don’t. It’s gone mainstream with large salt companies joining in on the potential of the health benefits of sea salt over table salt. Is there a difference between the two and if sea salt is better, which one is the best? They are all sodium chloride, NACL, so what is the primary difference and is it healthier or worth the extra cost?
It’s all about how it’s processed.
Sea salt comes from sea water that’s evaporated. It can be water that’s collected and evaporated or through mining crystals from lakes previously evaporated—which is similar to table salt. Very little processing is done after that for the sea salt, which leaves trace amounts of minerals in the salt. With table salt, the processing continues to remove the impurities, which are the minerals in this case. It’s then ground to a fine powder, which tends to clump. That’s when an anti-caking compound is added. In some cases, iodine is added. Iodine is often missing in a large portion of the population. It’s important to maintaining thyroid health.
There’s a different taste, appearance and consistency.
Sea salt has larger granules and is far coarser than table salt. Because small amounts of minerals remain and also due to the larger crystals, it has a different taste. When measured by volume, you get less sodium from using sea salt, because of the larger crystals. However, by weight, the amount of sodium is almost the same. It’s slightly lower due to the trace minerals, but not significantly. The impurities give it a different taste and often a different color.
Is one type of salt healthier than the others?
If your diet doesn’t have enough iodine, then iodized table salt is the healthiest option for you. Foods high in iodine include seafood in generally, but particularly cod, Greek yogurt, nonfat milk, oysters, eggs, enriched products and liver. Seaweed is another source, but the vast majority of the population doesn’t normally eat that daily. There are also concerns about pollution and the effect on sea salt that comes directly from sea water. Using ancient sea salts can address this problem. However, since the crystals are larger, many people use less sea salt, even though they believe they’re sprinkling the same amount. That can reduce the amount of sodium intake, which is healthy.
- While the amount of nutrients is tiny in sea salt, the one with the most is the pink Himalayan Sea salt from ancient seabeds, long before pollution. It’s said to have all 84 essential trace elements, but in minuscule amounts.
- Aegean Sea salt is white and flaky, but also Persian blue, Brittany gray and French Gray salt. Probably the best known is Pink Himalayan Sea salt, but the black and red salts of Hawaii are also popular.
- One very expensive salt, Fleur de sel, is a finishing salt that’s hand harvested in France. It comes from the same area as French gray salt. It’s light and flakey with a delicate taste.
- Some salts may be beneficial for other health issues, such as the black lava salt, which contains residue from volcanoes. It gets the black color from activated charcoal. Charcoal is known for its benefits to digestion.
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