Are Some Salts Healthier Than Others?



Sea Salt Flakes

Photo by: Robyn Mackenzie

Robyn Mackenzie

Sodium is a necessary nutrient, but most people overdo it on salt. The daily recommendation is to limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day (less if you suffer from high blood pressure). Given our love of the kitchen staple, it's not surprising that more and more salt choices are appearing on store shelves. Besides standbys like table salt and kosher salt, you may have come across fancier options like pink Hawaiian or fleur de sel. But no matter which salt you choose, it's best to keep the portions in check. Here's how several salts differ in sodium content, flavor and culinary uses.

Table Salt

What it is: This is your most basic, run-of-the mill shaker salt, cultivated from salt mines. It has a tiny granular texture, elementary saltiness and a slight aftertaste.

Sodium in 1/4 teaspoon: 590 milligrams
Recommended uses: pickling, canning, baking

What it is: Table salt that's fortified with iodine to prevent deficiency of the important mineral. It has the same flavor as table salt.

Sodium in 1/4 teaspoon: same as table salt
Recommended use: baking

What it is: This is another mined salt, only it's processed a little differently. This creates a product that's coarser, flakier and perfect for sprinkling. Popular among chefs, this salt disperses and dissolves more quickly. It has a clean and fresh flavor, no aftertaste and is perfect for everyday use.

Sodium in 1/4 teaspoon: 280 milligrams (fine kosher salt); 480 milligrams (coarse kosher salt)

Recommended uses: everyday cooking, salt-rimmed cocktails
Sea Salt

What it is: Collected from seawater that has evaporated, sea salt will vary in color, texture and flavor depending on where it's harvested. Sea salt also contains trace amounts of minerals like potassium and magnesium but the impact on your diet is negligible. The sodium content will also vary greatly depending on the grains' texture/size and where the salt is from. These salts are some culinary gems. Types include:

gray salt (or sel gris): grayish-purple in color, mild in flavor; adds a great crunch

pink Hawaiian: coarse, with a distinct flavor; gets its pink color from volcanic clay

fleur de sel: bright white and full of flavor; it's pricey but worth it--reserve for raw tomatoes and chocolate or caramel

Sodium in 1/4 teaspoon: anywhere from 400 to 600 milligrams
Recommended uses: finishing touches on prepared foods

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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