Over the last few years sea salt has become incredibly popular as an alternative to table salt even though sea salt has been used as a seasoning by humans since prehistoric times. Aside from culinary uses people often use sea salt today in bath soaks, body scrubs, cosmetics, beverages, and a wide variety of other products. We also now see sea salt listed as a main ingredient in many dishes, desserts, and snack foods… typically accompanied by the terms organic, natural, or pure. This shift has led people to believe that sea salt is healthier and should be used as an alternative to table salt… and they are liberally sprinkling it everywhere. However, is it really good for you?
Let’s start with a quick breakdown these two types of salt. Compared to table salt – sea salt is less processed, contains more trace nutrients, and has a much larger particle size.
|Sea Salt||Table Salt|
|Origin||The sea, evaporated sea water||Salt mines, underground salt deposits|
|Processing||Minimally processed, may retain trace minerals||Heavily processes to eliminate minerals|
|Additives||None not naturally occurring (trace amounts of potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium)||Iodine, anti-caking agents, potentially sugar, MSG, or aluminum by-products|
|Sodium Content||40% by weight||40% by weight|
|Texture||Course, large granules||Fine, small granules|
|Color(s)||White, pink, black, or grey||White|
So is sea salt healthier than table salt?
Proponents of sea salt claim that there are a wide variety of health benefits you can experience by switching to sea salt; including better skin health, better circulation, exfoliation of dead skin cells, eliminates dry skin, removes toxins in the body, helps prevent acne, helps stimulate hair and tooth enamel growth, helps relax sore muscles and muscle cramping, helps fight fatigue, helps one to sleep better, helps reduce inflammation, and so much more. Though keep in mind that any possible health benefits from one type of salt over the other have not been proven by any scientific research to date.
Why use sea salt to cook with?
Sea salts taste different than table salt due to a few factors including location (meaning what sea the salt comes from), the lack of chemical additives, and the size of the salt crystal (sea salt crystals are larger than the processed table salt crystals). Sea salt tends to have a more mild and fresh flavor. Table salt tends to have a chemical aftertaste from the anti-caking agents and added iodine. That chemical tang is a bit off-putting and honestly we all get quite enough iodine from other foods in our diet that we do not need it with salt. Using a small amount of sea salt when cooking can boost the overall flavor of your dish, and enhance the food you are making, without that unpleasant chemical taste.
What happens if you consume too much salt?
Dietary guidelines suggest that you should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams (or about 1 teaspoon) of salt per day. American diets tend to be filled with overly processed foods which contain a huge amount of salt simply to make the processed foods palatable. If your diet is already lacking in processed foods, you are already consuming a fraction of the sodium that the average American does. All salt should be consumed in moderation. Over consumption of sodium has been associated with serious health issues including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart failure, kidney stones, and more. If you have questions or concerns about your own salt intake please consult a medical professional.
As you can see here sea salt is less processed and typically contains less harmful additives (such as sugar or anti-caking agents) than table salt. It can be used as a culinary enhancer for meat, fish, vegetables, desserts, beverages, and more. It can also be used in a variety of home beauty treatments. Sodium is important for your body’s hydration, fluid balance, digestion, and blood pressure. Yet, no matter what type of salt you are consuming you should do so in moderation… just make sure you are eating enough for your overall health.
What do you think? Have you noticed any benefits from switching to sea salt?
Let us know in the comments below!