October 21, 2014

View as List The Scoop on Salt

  • The Scoop on Salt

    All salt (sodium chloride) can be traced to the sea. While some is still harvested directly from the sea, most is obtained from large inland bodies of water, such as the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and from subterranean deposits left by ancient oceans. Basically, salt is salt, but with some small nuances, mostly in taste and texture, not nutrition. Here, get an inside look at various types of salt.

  • 1

    Sea Salt

    Made by evaporating ocean water, unrefined sea salt contains trace amounts of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, copper and iodine, but not enough to matter. Sea salt is seldom iodized, and highly refined sea salt is virtually identical to non-iodized table salt. Sea salt comes in many varieties with different colors and flavors, depending on where it’s harvested. It can be coarse or fine, and ranges in price ($2.50 to $30 a pound).

  • 2

    Kosher Salt

    Derived from sea water or salt mines, this large-grained salt is used in koshering and curing meats, among other food preparations. Kosher salt typically has no additives, including iodine. It is not nutritionally better than regular salt, but because of the shape of the crystals, a teaspoon has less sodium than a teaspoon of regular salt.

  • 3

    Organic Salt

    Salt can’t be “grown” organically in the sense that plants can be, but two organizations (in France and New Zealand, not the United States Department of Agriculture) certify salt as organic if it has been harvested from pure waters, contains no additives and meets other processing guidelines. Organic salt is not healthier than regular table salt, contains no iodine and is expensive (about $10 a pound).

  • 4

    Table Salt

    Usually from rock salt mined from mineral deposits, table salt is finely ground and refined; anti-caking agents are added to keep it free flowing. Iodized salt (fortified with iodine), introduced in 1922, is credited with nearly eliminating goiter (enlarged thyroid) in the U.S. Iodine is also essential for brain development.

  • 5

    Advice Worth its Salt

    Woman adding a sprinkle of salt to a pot

    Choose iodized table salt to be on the safe side. If you don’t, there are plenty of food sources of iodine— particularly seafood and dairy foods; most multivitamin/mineral supplements supply 150 micrograms of iodine, the daily value for adults. Whatever salt you use, limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day (a teaspoon of table salt contains that upper limit). But remember, about three-quarters of the salt you eat you never see—it comes from processed foods and restaurant meals, not your salt shaker.