Dear Dietitian – Is Sea Salt Healthier than Table Salt?

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Published Friday, August 31, 2018
PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
by Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC

Dear Dietitian

I have been using sea salt for most of my cooking. It's more natural than table salt, and I feel that it is a healthier alternative. But my husband challenges me on this point. What do you think? --Suzanne

Dear Suzanne

Many Americans are opting for sea salt with the idea, "It is more natural, so it must be better for you." According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly two-thirds of Americans have tried to decrease their salt intake. Furthermore, in a survey conducted by the AHA, 61% of people believe sea salt is a lower sodium alternative to table salt.

Sea salt is made from evaporated sea water; whereas, table salt is mined from underground deposits. Table salt is processed, and in doing so, minerals are removed.  Then ingredients are added to prevent clumping. Both sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium, about 40% by weight.

While it is true that sea salt contains small amounts of minerals such as potassium and magnesium, and calcium, these nutrients are plentiful in other foods.  Potassium is found in oranges, potatoes, and tomatoes.  Calcium is in dairy products, fortified soy and almond milk, and vegetables, such as broccoli and kale.  Magnesium can be found in whole grains, spinach, and quinoa. 

Iodine is added to most table salt to aid in thyroid health.  Unless sea salt is fortified with iodine, it does not contain a sufficient amount to prevent thyroid problems.

The true differences in sea salt compared to table salt are its texture and taste. Sea salt has a course texture and a stronger flavor, and some prefer it for these reasons. If you opt for sea salt on a regular basis, be sure to obtain iodine-rich foods each day in your diet. These foods include eggs, shellfish, and dairy products. 

The bottom line is there is no nutritional advantage of choosing sea salt over table salt.

Here's to good health!

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian with over fifteen years of experience. Have a question?  Email Leanne at DearDietitian411@gmail.com.