No, sea salt is not a healthier choice than table salt. From a chemical and nutritional standpoint, both are sodium chloride and you want to limit your sodium intake to 2300 mg (~1 tsp of table salt) or less to promote blood pressure control.
If you use kosher salt, which has larger crystals, you benefit because less salt "fits" in one teaspoon due to the larger crystal size. A teaspoon of kosher salt provides about 1900 mg sodium. Sea salt is available in this larger crystal form, also.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
The Heart of Health - Heart Health and Weight Loss Tips
Sea salt contains Potassium Chloride as well as Sodium Chloride and this results in lower sodium content. But how much? About 1% of the salt is potassium chloride. Not enough to make any real difference. Another ingredient in sea salt is the minerals from the sea. Why do doctors advise in limiting fish consumption? Due to the fact that mercury in the sea that gets into the fatty deposits of the fish. So sea salt then has more mercury that table salt. Which do you think is better? Some say se4a salt tastes better due to the slight minerals in it. These other minerals are less than 1% of the salt, probably not enough to taste. But if you believe it is better and can taste the difference when blindfolded, then go for it.
You can feel free to do your own research on this. There are fairly recent studies published in PubMed.gov that you should be able to find. It's ground breaking (western medicine) research. Basically, the research of Dr. John Laragh (MD) at the Hypertension center of NY Cornell Medical Center shows that high blood pressure isn't really causes by salt intake levels but in an overactive hormone system further compounded by a diet poor in phytonutrient dense foods and essential fatty acids and psychological (and even too much physical) stress. When the hormonal system (including the HPA axis or thyroids) is overactive, renin levels rise and often abnormally (renin incase you didn't know is a protein digesting enzyme that acts in raising blood pressure significantly) and body salt content is becomes excessively reduced and excreted out... and sometimes salt starvation can occur and does in extremely stressed individuals and those suffering with severe stress and anxiety disorders... this can explain salt cravings that some people get (it's because they genuinely need salt). On the other hand with low renin levels, which occur only in a third of hypertensive people, a sodium excess occurs-- in this scenario, patients need to put immense focuse on upping their intake of other electrolytes and foods that promote better fluid balance which I'll brush on.
On a slightly similar note... in studies, we know that stress and anxiety alone can cause people's blood pressure to rise significantly to hypertension levels from being previously normal. We know that chronic stressful life situations and events alter the firing of neuron pathways in the brain which activate the sympathetic nervous system which results in (as brushed on earlier) the HPA axis becomming overactive resulting in high levels of cortisol and adrenaline which can raise blood pressure significantly. We also know that well over 50% of American's have unhealthy stress levels. We also know that poor sleep raises blood pressure. We know that exercise is an effective cure for high blood pressure OR lowers current high blood pressure to lower levels. We know thanks to sleep research, many americans are sleep deprived and that paying back sleep debts that have existed chronically lowers blood pressure. I've read the studies that show how properly done meditation and relaxation causes up to a 8% reduction in blood pressure when done daily for over 4 weeks and we also know that the effects remain as long as relaxation or meditation is performed and often remain weeks after discontinuation.
And to recap, the CAUSE is NOT salt intake, it's an overactive hormal system and the treatment has nothing to do with lowering salt intake but increasing intake of phytonutrient dense foods along with EFA's, magnesium, potassium, calcium, l-arginine, vitamin B (folic acid), vitamin C, lean protein, CoQ10, psyllium, even vitamin D, and administering the right allopathic medicine (if absolutely necessary and a last resort BECAUSE they don't do what I ask them to do which happens to less than 4% of my patients). Also lowering psychological stress is of absolute importance as many people's hormonal systems become overactive as a result of psychological stress and trauma as I mentioned already. As a dietician, you should be able to agree that omega 3, l-arginine, magnesium, potassium, phytonutrient dense foods (like vegetables), and other herbs/supplements effectively lowers blood pressure... and when you add in herbs for combined synergy like hawthorn, grapeseed extract, adaptogens, green tea, and garlic, you get an even further impressive reduction in blood pressure... most MD's wouldn't know this, they've never tried it with patients, but I'd hope you do as a dietician. So, why does every MD put such a big focus on lowering salt intake and prescribing drugs like Paxil when patients have high blood pressure? Statistics speak for themselves-- there's too many more important things to focus on and improve with lifestyle, diet, and psychological coping. It's sad, they just don't spend the time with their patients that they really should... it's all about prescribing meds and getting the patient on their way quickly.
-Dr. Dave ND/LAc/MA LCSW
I just checked the amount of coarse sea salt that I consume each day. It's about 3/4tsp, which is about 1500mg of sodium per day.
Is that about right for a 65yo male with well-controlled Type 2 Diabetes (glycated hemoglobin 6.5)?
Really? Your an expert and that is what you told someone???? Sea Salt is the best choice overall. Yes, Kosher Salt does have less sodium than sea salt but sea salt has less sodium than table salt and you do want to limit salt all together. Sea Salt retains all its trace minerals because the way it is harvested and this allows it to interact with the bodys cells. Table Salt is processd and stipped of all the trace minerals and does not interact with our cells and can leave some attached to our organs such as our heart and kidneys. Dont take my word for it, look it up there are plenty of scholarly articles that say the same thing
Fact: Sea salt and regular table salt contain almost identical amounts of sodium chloride no matter how you measure it.
Fact: Sea salt's minerals as well as the latest "charged particles" claimed by expensive salt sellers offer very minute differences in body function and chemistry as charged particles change in solution and trace elements pale in comparison to nutrients found in the actual food you wish to sprinkle with salt.
Many of us here are on the right track and maybe many of us are in the "medical field(s)". However, MOST in the medical fields will discourage the use of sea salt for many "good" reasons and never tell us the real reason: the lack of proper salt in the diet will cause the person to suffer even worse problems than high blood pressure which is good for business since the patient will continually seek out his or another MD to treat his worsening condition. Dr. Dean Edell years ago on his radio program said "NaCl is sodium chloride and that is all sea salt is. No difference." Made sense to me....at the time. That is until I started to think about medicine in general. People with high BP never seemed to really get better they just got more Rx from the doc and payed higher prices. Nobody EVER discussed causes or preventions. Our experience with salt is a one pound round box of Morton white salt with iodine would last us two then middle-aged people about one month. Now a two pound bag of Redmond sea salt will last us from one to two YEARS. Your body knows what the real stuff is and it will use what it needs and it NEEDS less sea salt to do the job.
Reasearch shows any salt is better than no salt and people using Sea Salt do the best, on average, on blood pressure tests.
Regular table salt, is highly refined and has additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Many of the preservatives are not required to be listed on the container and include ferrocyanide, magnesium carbonate, and aluminum hydroxide.
High levels of aluminum are believed to be a major factor in the prevalence of Alzheimer's in the U.S.
Standard salt undergoes a refining process that strips it of 60 trace minerals, leaving a nutrient-free flavoring. Manufacturers put this refined salt into almost every prepared food, and it's even present in municipal water sources.
True Sea Salt matches the mineral level of the blood nearly exactly.
Avoiding salt is not healthy and too much Sodium Chloride (regular salt) is unhealthy. Sea Salt in a Macrobiotic diet is very healthy according to studies.
I'm inclined to believe that Sea Salt is better, but I trying to find the particular research that shows its benefits (not just anecdotal evidence). Can you point to any studies? Thanks!
Historical fact: The "Spice Wars" touted in school history books were actually battles for salt deposits which were vital for life. The history of the Carribean shows the changing of "ownership" occuring several times in the past 500 years. One particular island comprised primarily of sea salt was the centerpiece of all the wars. An easy to digest version of this history is Michner's "carribean".
Sea salt is better both taste wise and health wise.
In this country, people (including medical doctors, nutritionists, and dieticians) are brainwashed into thinking that salt is nothing but sodium chloride, all the way from kindergarten to medical school, that all salt is the same, created equall, that there is no other "salt" available in the USA-- it's all the same, so this rules the thinking. When people are saying sea salt doesn't make a difference, they are actually making an assumption, not a statement of true fact. Even more so, all US studies on salt have been done with commercial table salt. When people talk about salt. They overlook completely that there are 84 buffering elements in most sea salt to protect the body (and other organisms like fish) from the harshness of sodium chloride in its pure, harsh state. Salt is not just trace minerals, it is a lot more, way more. There is bio-electric energy in salt (yes, a small amount that some say is negligible); there is magnetism (almost unmeasurable, but still there); there are vital and inert gases, such as helium, neon and argon; plus there are micro-organisms; there are micro-minerals in salt that aren't found in most foods and are poisonous in large quantites BUT that the body uses and needs (scientifically proven to need) in the smallest of quanties, quantites that sea salt delivers safely. Sea water is a complex chemical soup, containing 84 of the 103 known elements. Nature had a purpose in making our blood like the ocean (where sea salt comes from...). In the ocean, sodium is buffered. In our blood, the sodium is buffered. And in our diet, the sodium should be buffered as well... table salt isn't buffered. A similar concept is well understood with other nutrients (ie: buffered vitamin C is more absorbed and effective than non-buffered)- buffering makes a difference in most cases. Furthermore, If you tried to inject pure sodium chloride intravenously via liquid, you would kill a person. He will go into shock. But if you inject a liquid salt solution with other minerals in it, it won't kill someone. This is well known in medical circles in other countries outside the US. In the 1900's, an MD did a test and put fish in a tank of water mixed with refined salt, the same concentration of salt that exists in sea water. All the fish died. If fish can't live on pure sodium chloride in dilute concentration, how can we? Nature is telling us something here, right? Other experiments have been done on animals and humans in other countries with salt restriction and intake and on sea salt, unfortunately American doctors can't and don't read clinical studies that are written in other languages and are very hard to access. Most wouldn't care because to them, their current knowledge is alreay correct and the study has to be a published American study.
Furthermore, reducing table salt intake isn't a full proof way to lower blood pressure. Low salt diets can actually cause higher blood pressure, especially in cases when people have electrolyte imbalances. There are some MD's in other parts of the world who are well aware of this and will ask people with high blood pressure what kind of salt they are consuming. And if regular table salt, they suggest natural sea salt. People who use sea salt have the tendency for more normal blood pressure-- this is not based on studies but from experience from other naturopathic doctors and MDs in other countries who I know who regularly monitor their patients diets in large depth (yes, down to what kind of salt they use). Anyway, when the heart has much less of a fuel (salt based electrolytes) for contraction it becomes weaker, slightly, and the body will raise the pressure by restricting the arteries. If you have a regular mechanical pump that doesn't work well, or has a slow leak, you have to reduce the diameter of the vessel through which the liquid is being pumped to keep the liquid moving (and blood from clotting). In this case, we are talking about blood. So, to compensate for a weak pumping action by the heart, the body compensated by increasing the pressure in the arteries. Lots of other things are happening as well. On a low-salt diet, not only is the heart working harder, but so are many of the other organs as well. Nature put 84 elements in salt, as a buffer, to protect you from pure sodium chloride. There's a reason why lowering salt intake does NOTHING to a large percentage of people's blood pressure, hmm I wonder why. And there's a reason why salt restriction would lower people's blood pressure-- because the chloride in salt throws your electrolyte balance off. One other reason for high blood pressure is because people don't consume enough plant based antioxidants and nutrients (which help keep the heart strong, lowers cholesterol, and balances blood sugar, improves digestion).
Sea salt is not "bad"; sea salt is different than table salt. I don't care what other "experts" will say. What they are saying is assumption based, not based off of scientific studies which they'd agree there are none on sea salt-- so why believe someone who is making an assumption? From my experience and other doctors I know who closely monitor patients diets and take blood pressure and heart rate at evey visit, people who consume generous amounts of sea salt and eat a healthy diet consistently have a lower/normal blood pressure than those who eat healthy but consume table salt in moderate amounts. I'm not claiming what I say to be scientific study based, but the clinical and anectodal evidence amongst my colleagues (and studies done in other countries) are enough for me and other naturopathic doctors and MDs in other countries to recommend sea salt to patients.
I hope this helps provide a different, opposing viewpoint.
After days of researching on and off the web:
Kosher salt, sea salt, table salt and any mystical, high-priced salt from far-off lands all contain enough sodium to raise blood-pressure when used. Coarse kosher salt and all other large-crystal salts are no exception and are merely less dense (puffed up like popcorn) and merely contain more air than other salts. This is why recipes tell you to use more kosher salt to get the same saltiness into food. If you find that using kosher salt helps you to accidentally consume less salt by fitting less into a measured teaspoon then that is fine. But you are simply just measuring less salt and more air. If you're trying to consume less sodium, you could measure less of another refined salt like sea salt than the recipe calls for. Either way you'll be tasting less salt because in both cases you'll be consuming less.
There is no way to trick your taste buds into tasting more salt than is actually there. You can only reorient your senses and gradually become acclimated to expecting less salt over time.
For the additional debate: Facts as researched by current public health
First, evidence of sea salt's 80+ trace elements being of beneficial use to our body has still not yielded any convincing results. All "proof" found in articles and documents are still anecdotal and theoretical. It is common to read sea salt as being "more natural" because the salt is evaporated but not refined and baked.
However, the "interaction" of sea salt's "natural" trace elements could be low or non-existent in our body's chemistry. Allot of stuff passes through our digestion and our cells without notice or use. The "trace elements" found in sea salt (almost always unnamed and unexplained in articles) could be garbage passed through our body or simply dissolved but not used by our body. In short, it's guesswork by our best chemists and biologists. They've been studying it for a long time and still aren't sure or satisfied. Let us wait for definitive proof of benefit before writing articles proclaiming "natural" advice.
That being said, sea salt is still the best option for food salting merely for the lack of preservatives and non-caking agents that are suspect. Choose sea salt for this reason and not for the "natural trace elements" that only a chemist could detect. Additionally, kosher salt is also great for the same reason and is useful for salting your food's outer surface.
But, be sure you get iodine into your diet from another source like a multi-vitamin for proper thyroid health, pre-natal care and child nutrition (especially if you live more than 1,000 miles from the ocean.) Inland crop soils and livestock (including freshwater fish) are usually depleted of iodine. Iodine is a heavy element that our bodies have evolved to depend on by way of the oceans. Ironically, iodine from the sea is very important to our body's health but does not make it into sea salt in any useful amount. Iodine is one of sea salt's 80+ "natural trace elements" in low, useless, insignificant amounts. Bummer, huh.
Also, don't let articles scare you by listing sodium iodide, potassium iodide, and/or potassium iodate as harmful additives to table salt. These are merely the chemicals from which our body naturally gets iodine. They are NOT evil, scary abominations. They are, in fact, iodine as it is found in seawater. You CAN find sea salt which has been iodized by any of the three compounds listed above but the end result is, as expected, regular table salt plus the "trace element" pixy dust people love about sea salt.
1. Use sea salt or kosher salt in food to escape questionable additives.
2. Get iodide into your diet from something else like multi-vitamins or seafood.
3. Avoid reading articles offering simplified reasons for using "natural" stuff without lengthy explanation or linked sources to medical or chemical documents provided by a publicly-funded source. Preferably aged 3 years :)
The benefit of the trace minerals is in the way that they interact in the body. The net effect is to leave the body more alkaline, whereas the net effect of table salt is to leave the body more acidic. As disease, including cancer, cannot grow in an alkaline body, the net difference between consuming sea salt as opposed to table salt is quite signicant.
"Avoid reading articles offering simplified reasons for using "natural" stuff without lengthy explanation or linked sources to medical or chemical documents provided by a publicly-funded source. Preferably aged 3 years :)"
What are your sources?
The body has to maintain itself, i.e. blood PH in a very limited range. If you consume foods that increase the body's PH, then the body will work to bring it down, back to it's set level. Even breathing will change the blood PH. If you eat foods that decrease the body's PH, then the body will work to bring itself back to it's set level. Sometimes, the stomach will excete sodium cloride to increase the PH level in the stomach, or neutralize some of the hydrocloric acid, to keep itself in the range it prefers to operate in, while processing food.
If you attempt to increase the PH of the body, or it's alkaline state or level, you'll notice your urine PH will increase, as the body works to bring it back down to it's prefered level.
Go for the sea salt because you like the flavor, simple as that. The trace elements you mention are mostly heavy metals, and you prefer they go on through the body and out anyway. The couple of percent of potassium cloride, is not enough to have much of an impact on the amount of sodium cloride in sea salt. Potassium cloride has a tendancy not to volumize the blood, which Sodium cloride does, which is what increases a person's blood pressure.
In other words, eat more sodium cloride, your body absorbs more water, increasing the blood plasma, increasing your blood pressure. Everyone is different, and not all people are affected this way, just us unlucky ones.
Is sea salt low in sodium?
Someone please tell me why Lays Potato Chips raise my blood pressure worse than any food I have ever eaten?