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CHERYL A. MAJOR: Iodized Table Salt Versus Sea Salt…which is better for you?

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Cheryl A. Major is a volunteer contributor to Westford CAT. If you have an informational column you’d like to submit for consideration, email [email protected].

Are you a salt lover? I wasn’t, but now I am, because I switched the type salt I was using.  It made all the difference in taste as well as in health value.  How much salt should you have every day? What’s the difference between regular table salt and sea salt? Why is one better for you than the other?  Read on.

Did you know the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of salt every day?  To put this in perspective, the average recommended daily intake of sodium is 1,500-2,300 mgs of salt, and people who are on a salt restricted diet should keep that intake at or close to 1500 mgs per day.  Most of the salt is found in restaurant or fast food, in low fat or no fat food (to make up for the taste lost by removing the fat, which it turns out has a lot of flavor), and in prepared, frozen and canned food such as canned soups and vegetables and frozen dinners.

Regular table salt, also known as iodized salt, is highly processed and contains additives to keep it from clumping. One of the major additives, which you can probably guess from the name, is iodine.  Decades ago, when people didn’t get enough iodine in their diets, they were at risk of developing a goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland.  As a small child, I remember seeing people, mostly older woman as I recall, with huge growths in their throats which my mother explained were called “goiters.”  Additionally, a deficiency in iodine is an easily preventable contributor to mental retardation. Because our bodies can’t synthesize iodine, we have to get it from our food.  They actually started adding iodine to salt way back in 1924.

Sea salt, on the other hand, does not contain additives and is produced by evaporating sea water. There are no hard to pronounce chemicals in that production process. Wow, that was a short paragraph. I love it when eating is simple.

So… why is one form of salt better for you than the other?  Traditional table salt or iodized salt has a number of additives beyond the addition of iodine.  In fact, sugar or corn syrup is often added during the manufacturing process which is necessary to stabilize the iodine and prevent oxidation. Aluminum calcium silicate is also added to keep the salt from clumping.  There are also a number of other additives few of us are able to correctly pronounce, like sodium ferrocyanide, silicon dioxide, sodium aluminosilicate and dicalcium phosphate.  Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?  As far as sea salt is concerned, an added bonus to using it is that there are trace elements that are good for you in it that are not destroyed because of the minimal processing. You also have choices of different types and grinds of sea salt.  My favorite is the Himalayan pink sea salt.

As you can see, there is a significant argument for using sea salt over using regular table salt.  The flavor is very different, as well.  Iodized salt has a metallic taste where sea salt has a rounder, heartier flavor.  You still need to watch your salt intake as both sea salt and table salt have the same sodium content; this is especially true if you’re trying to keep your blood pressure under control.

Here’s one last benefit of sea salt.  Because it’s not as fine, one teaspoon of sea salt actually contains less salt than a teaspoon of the finely ground table salt.  Give sea salt a try, and let me know what you think.

Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show Thin Strong Healthy airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com   Cheryl offers ongoing information and coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.

 

Questions?  Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line.  Your question and its answer will be included in a future article.