Is Sea Salt Better for You than Table Salt?
Whether harvested from land or sea, salt is a crystalline mineral made of the elements sodium and chlorine – elements our body requires.
Sea salt is generally produced with little or no processing through the evaporation of saltwater lake or ocean water. Evaporation leaves trace minerals and other elements behind. These minerals color and give a distinctive flavor to the salt. If harvested from polluted water, sea salt may contain tiny amounts of heavy metals.
Table salt is usually mined from underground salt deposits. It typically goes through a refining process that strips away its trace minerals. It is bleached to create a commercially pleasing white appearance. Additives are mixed in to prevent clumping. Some manufacturers may put sea salt through this process as well.
It is the refining process used to produce table salt that makes it less healthy to consume, according to some experts – but not all.
Unrefined Sea Salt vs. Refined Table Salt
On one side of the salt divide are those who believe all salt has generally the same nutritional value. They point out:
- Sea salt and table salt have comparable levels of sodium by weight.
- The trace minerals in unprocessed sea salt are tiny amounts, barely contributing to daily dietary requirements.
- The iodine added to table salt is of nutritional value.
- Whatever salt you use, it should be used in moderation.
On the other side of the divide are those who insist the refining process renders salt toxic. They point out:
- Unrefined salt supplies over 80 trace elements beneficial to the body.
- Table salt is exposed to toxic chemicals and contains undesirable substances such as ferrocyanide, aluminum and bleach.
- Natural (unrefined) sea salt is only 84 percent sodium chloride plus trace minerals, compared to nearly 98 percent sodium chloride in table salt – and no trace minerals.
Where you stand regarding the great salt divide is naturally up to you. One thing to keep in mind is that most of the excess salt Westerners consume comes from eating canned, fast or processed foods.
We can drastically reduce our intake of table salt by cooking more of our own meals with mostly whole, fresh ingredients and using herbs instead of salt to season them.