When you walk down the grocery aisle these days (or head to a specialty food store) you will see a lot of hype around a variety of salts. You can now buy salt that are many different colors, shapes, and sizes: pink Himalayan salt, black lava salt, grey Celtic salt, flaky fleur de sel, coarse sea salt, even smoked salt! Some varieties of salt claim to have less sodium than table salt. In this post, we’ll talk about the hype and the science behind the sodium content of these salts.
So much confusion about sodium!
In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association in 2011, 61 percent of respondents incorrectly said sea salt is a low-sodium an alternative to table salt. Here’s the truth: most salts – including sea salt, table salt, kosher salt, and Himalayan pink salt - contain about 40 percent sodium.
The label might claim to have less sodium than table salt, and here’s why: it’s about the volume of salt that can fit into your measuring spoon. I know! Crazy, right? Let me explain further. If the salt crystals are small, more of them will fit into your measuring spoon than if they are large. So, while table salt may have about 2300 mg of sodium in a teaspoon , there are about 2000 mg of sodium per teaspoon if you are using sea salt , and pink Himalayan salt has about 1700 mg of sodium per teaspoon …all because the volume of the salt crystals in a teaspoon are different! To get a clearer picture, you can check the food package, Nutrition Facts label to compare how each type of salt compares to table salt. Check out how much sodium you should eat for more information.
How about extra minerals?
Some companies claim that sea salts and mountain salts like pink Himalayan salt contain special minerals. Here’s the truth: the levels of minerals reported are very low (so low, they may not be reported, depending on the brand).
You can eat minerals that are touted in these salts (like iron and magnesium) by eating healthy. This includes eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry, and fish (preferably oily), legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds and non-tropical vegetable oils. Enjoying a variety of healthful foods should give you the nutrients, minerals, and energy you need to live a healthy life.
What about pollution?
There have been a number of online discussions about pollution in sea salt. Here’s the truth: There have been two studies that have examined whether micro-plastics, presumably from pollution in our oceans or lakes, exist in sea salt. A group of researchers studied the chemical composition of 16 brands of sea salt, and found particles of various plastics in those salts. While researchers have concluded that the limited amount of plastic in salts poses negligible health risks associated with eating the salts, there is a possibility of gradual accumulation of plastics over time in the salts and these should be watched and evaluated. So, there is more to do when it comes to exploring pollutants in various types of salt.
So, feel free to try a variety of salts in your cooking – just do so in moderation! The bottom line: it is smart to limit the amount of salt you are adding to your food, no matter what kind.
What hype have you heard about Himalayan pink salt?