Sea salt or table salt – which is healthier?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen all kinds of salt appear on the shelves of our supermarkets and specialized shops: Guérande salt, Himalayan salt, “fleur de sel,” etc. Are these specialized salts healthier than table salt? The answer is no, and here’s why:

All salt comes from sea water. Table salt comes from salt deposits that formed thousands of years ago when bodies of saltwater dried up. It is harvested in mines, and then cleansed of all impurities.

In North America, iodine is added to table salt. Iodine is essential to our health and is not easily found in foods. By iodizing salt, we reduce certain health problems, particularly thyroid problems such as goiter.

Specialty salts can come from evaporated sea water (e.g. “fleur de sel” and Guérande salt) or from salt deposits found in the ground or in the mountains (e.g. Himalayan salt).

Since these salts are less processed than table salt, they may contain traces of minerals or organic particles that give them a different colour or flavour. Most specialty salts do not contain iodine.

The size of the crystals varies from one type to another, but most specialty salts have bigger crystals than table salt.

At equal quantities, specialty salts have the same amount of sodium as table salt. Although some companies claim that their products contain other minerals in addition to sodium, the quantities are too low to meet daily requirements.

Most Canadians consume too much salt, but the excess rarely comes from salt added at the table. Processed foods are the real problem, because they usually contain large quantities of salt.

Ideally, it is best to cook your own meals as much as possible, using ingredients that are fresh or minimally processed, and to add no salt during the cooking process. At the table, you can then add a bit of salt (specialty or table salt) if you want to add flavour to your meal. As with anything, moderation is always in good taste!

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