SEA salt has become increasingly popular. It’s featured as a main ingredient in many desserts and snacks, and many recipes call for it by name. Often, terms such as “organic”, “natural”, and “pure” also accompany products that contain sea salt, alluding that it’s a healthy alternative to table salt. But is it really a reason to put the salt shaker back on the table?

Differences and similarities

The main differences between sea salt and table salt are in their tastes, texture and processing. Sea salt comes from evaporated seawater and is minimally processed, so it may retain trace minerals. The minerals sea salt contains depend on the body of water where it’s evaporated from. This also may affect taste or colour of the salt. In terms of health, the minerals are minor and easily consumed through daily food intake.

Regular table salt comes from salt mines and is processed to eliminate minerals. In addition to iodine — an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid — table salt usually contains an additive to prevent clumping.

Experts recommend limiting salt of any kind in your diet because this common food topper contains sodium. For some people, sodium can increase blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body. The sodium content of sea salt and table salt is identical — 40 per cent when measured by weight. However, some sea salts may have larger crystals than table salt so the sea salt may have less sodium by volume because fewer crystals will fit in a measuring device such as a spoon.

Whether you choose to use sea salt or table salt, remember to use in moderation. Better yet, experiment with herbs and spices to add flavour to your food and keep the salt shaker off the table.

Flavourful alternatives to reduce salt intake

These seasoning recommendations from the American Heart Association add variety to your foods:

– allspice for lean meats, stews, tomatoes, gravies

– basil for fish, lean meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails

– bay leaves for lean meats, stews, poultry, soups, tomatoes

– caraway seeds for lean meats, stews, soups, salads, breads, cabbage, asparagus, noodles

– chives for Salads, sauces, soups, lean meat dishes, vegetables

– cider vinegar for Salads, vegetables, sauces

– curry powder for Lean meats, lamb, veal, chicken, fish, tomatoes, tomato soup, mayonnaise

– dill for fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, lean beef, chicken, fish

– garlic (not garlic salt) for lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes

– ginger for chicken, fruits

– lemon juice, paprika, parsley for lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables

– mustard (dry) for lean ground meats, lean meats, chicken, fish, salads, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, sauces

– nutmeg for potatoes, chicken, fish, lean meatloaf, toast, veal

– onion powder (not onion salt) for lean meats, stews, vegetables, salads, soups

– rosemary for lean meats, poultry, meatloaf, sauces, stuffing, potatoes, peas, lima beans

– sage for lean meats, stews, biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, fish, lima beans, onions, pork

– thyme for lean meats, veal, pork, sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads

– turmeric for lean meats, fish, sauces, rice.

Allie Wergin is a dietitian in diabetes education, and nutrition counselling and education in Le Sueur and New Prague, Minnesota. This post first appeared on the Mayo Clinic Helath System. Read more:

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