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Don't Be Fooled by Sea Salt | May 25, 2011

When it comes to fries and other product seasoned with sea salt, marketers know their audience. In a new survey conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA), 61 percent of Americans erroneously think that sea salt is a healthier, lower-sodium alternative to regular salt.


The fact is that table salt and sea salt have the same basic nutritional value, both consisting of two minerals – sodium and chloride, the only difference is that one is harvested from seawater rather than mined.


Se salt is often advertised by marketers as being more natural and a healthy alternative.  But, the real differences between sea salt and table salt is in their taste, texture and processing, not their makeup.


Sea salt is actually produced as seawater evaporates. This process is quite simple and leaves behind some trace minerals and elements depending upon the water source.


These trace minerals can add flavor and color to the sea salt.  Because very little processing is involved, sea salt is often coarser and found in larger crystals.


Table salt on the other hand is mined from underground salt deposits. It has to undergo more processing to eliminate trace minerals, contains additives to prevent it from clumping and it also has added iodine, an essential nutrient necessary to prevent goiter.


According to the AHA, the U.S. public is confused about sodium. They found that 46 percent blamed the salt shaker for their high sodium intake, when in fact most dietary sodium comes from salt in processed foods.


The body needs only a couple of hundred milligrams (MG) a day to stay healthy. But most people consume between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day.


People with high blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure should aim for the lower end of the range. The AHA recommends a maximum of 1,500 mg of sodium per day.


While sea salt may seem like a healthier or more natural choice, it contains the same amount of sodium as table salt and will have the same effect on your blood pressure.


So when it comes to managing blood pressure, there are no health benefits to using sea salt over table salt. Because sea salt has a stronger taste, less of it may be needed to create the same flavor, but consumption still needs to be limited to no more than 1,500 mg per day, which is about ½ to ¾ tsp.  A better bet is to use salt-free seasonings, spices and herbs.