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Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

To all of the companies who market sea salt as healthy, you are doing your jobs well!  At least once per week I’ll discuss a low sodium diet with a patient who has heart failure and part of our conversation will go something like this:

Patient: “Oh yes, I always follow a low sodium diet.  We only use sea salt at home.” (This is usually followed by a self-satisfied look that says “See, I’m up to date on what’s good for me”).

Me: “Sea salt is salt.  It contains sodium which is what you need to reduce in your diet.  Don’t believe what the marketing says. It may be less processed, but it’s still salt.”

Patient: (now with slightly crestfallen face): “Really?”

Me: “Yes.”

In brief, sea salt is what’s left after salt water is evaporated. The minerals that are left behind give the salt nuances of flavor.  Table salt is processed to remove these minerals, and iodine, an important trace element, is typically added. But, the chemical makeup (NaCl – sodium chloride) is the same.

If you’re looking to reduce sodium in your diet my first recommendation is to experiment with fresh or dried herbs and spices (see this post for pairing suggestions). You can also use salt-free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash, or a salt substitute. The salt substitutes may be potassium based, so it’s important to check with your doctor before using them.  As always, experiment and enjoy!

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