Salt is an essential component of a balanced diet. Sodium chloride (salt) is needed to maintain fluid balance and proper cardiac functioning. Consume too little salt during intense exercise and you’re at risk for dehydration and hyponatremia. If you consume too much your destined for a life of high blood pressure and swollen ankles. So what is the right amount, and is there a certain type of salt that’s better than the other?
The recommended amount of sodium for healthy Americans (those without hypertension) is 2300 milligrams (mg) per day. That’s equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. On Average, Americans consume between 3000 to 4000 mg per day. Keep in mind that table salt is not our only source of sodium, many processed foods and fast foods contain large amounts. One In-N-Out Double-Double has 1500 mg of sodium and one package of Top Ramen Noodles has 1600 mg of sodium.
Sea Salt. In a recent survey by the American Heart Association 61% of people incorrectly responded that sea salt had less sodium than table salt. By weight, table salt and sea salt have the same amount of sodium. Both are roughly 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The main difference between sea salt and regular salt is how it is produced. Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water, usually with little processing. Table salt is mined from salt mines and is more heavily processed which removes trace amounts of minerals. Table salt also has added iodine (to prevent goiter) and may contain anti-caking agents (calicium silicate) to prevent clumping. For culinary purposes, sea salt has a courser texture and may impart a stronger flavor than table salt.
Kosher Salt. All salt is Kosher. Kosher salt got its name because it was originally used for religious purposes. Jewish law required that the blood be extracted from meat before eating it. The flaky, course structure of Kosher salt is particularly efficient at extracting blood. You can use kosher salt to extract blood or you can use it to provide flavor and a flaky texture to your food, your choice.
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. Pink Himalayan Sea salt is the new pure maple syrup. Every “nutritionist” cough, salesperson, is promoting it, and it will probably cure all of your ailments. Just do a quick internet search and you will find that the pink salt can detoxify your organs, lower your blood pressure, improve circulation, and help you sleep. I’m skeptical. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt is mined from salt mines in Pakistan. It is less processed because it is stone ground and does retain some trace amounts of minerals likes calcium, iron and potassium. There is some evidence that pink salt is slightly lower in sodium than regular. Spectral analysis show that it contains roughly 38% sodium, compared to the typical 40%. This is not a big difference. Not enough for me to pay double or triple the price of regular salt.
The bottom line is that all salt contains similar amounts of sodium. If you prefer one type over the other for cooking purposes go ahead and use it. Nutritionally, the differences are miniscule.