17 January 2011-
People all over the world are getting more and more health conscious. This has led to the awareness about health benefits of different food products, especially those which contain various food additives
. As common a food product as salt is also included in such a list of doubtful food products. People now go into the debate of sea salt vs table salt- they want to know what is the safe option- sea salt or table salt? Those who want to continue with table salt ask - when is table salt safe? So, this article is an attempt to provide answers regarding sea salt vs table salt. However, before moving on to know the drawbacks and benefits of sea salt and table salt, we must know what they are?
What is Sea Salt?
Sea salt is the unrefined salt obtained directly from sea through natural evaporation. Manufacturers of wholesale sea salt do not refine it like other types of salt. Therefore, it may contain traces of such minerals as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine. Most of the experts consider sea salt as a more healthier option than table salt as it doesn't contain any unnatural substance or food additives like anti caking agent
etc. Sea salt is available in coarse, fine and extra fine grain size.
What is Table Salt?
Table salt is the most common type of salt found in homes. It is obtained from the slat mines- the terrestrial salt deposits which are mined, heat-blasted and chemically treated. Due to these processes, table salt is stripped of all minerals other than sodium and chloride. Thus, table salt is a refined salt type with most of the minerals removed from it until it remains almost pure sodium chloride. Table salt is, in fact, 99.9% sodium chloride. Varieties of table salt are available as plain salt or iodized salt.
Difference between Sea Salt and Table Salt
The debate about sea salt vs table salt doesn't give too much of a difference between unrefined sea salt and regular table salt. Both of them contain high amounts of sodium and chloride. However, there are still certain differences between them.
Table salt contains slightly more sodium and chloride than sea salt.
Table salt also contains unnatural ingredients such as anti-caking agents and sugars. Anti-caking agents prevent table salt from sticking together in salt holder and allows it to stay dry and free flowing. As anti caking agents may contain aluminum which is naturally bitter, glucose is often added by the table salt manufacturers to help neutralize the bitterness.
Table salt also contains natural ingredients like iodine just as sea salt. However, iodine is added to table salt in the form of potassium iodide, which requires to be stabilized with a form of sugar or baking soda to prevent it from breaking down into iodine before it is ingested.
The taste of the two salts too differ a little. Due to the presence of minerals, sea salt is not as 'salty' as table salt is. Sea salt may be slightly flavored, sweeter in taste than the regular salt used in kitchen or table.
Unrefined sea salt obtained from sea water contains a number of impurities as the sea water is neither boiled nor treated because that can make it lose its minerals. Table salt, on the other hand contains no impurities due to the refinement process undertaken during its manufacturing.
As far as appearance is concerned, table salt is fine, white crystals, mostly free flowing due to the presence of anti caking agents. Sea salt, on the contrary, may have a little grayish tone if they are from the coastal areas of France, or may have pinkish hue if it comes from some other exotic locale.
Benefits of Sea Salt
If nutritive value is taken into consideration, sea salt seems to have more benefits than table salt. It contains about 80 mineral elements that a human body needs. Sea salt has such nutrients and minerals which help our body in preserving blood cells. Health benefits of sea salt include
Facilitating proper sleep
Promoting efficient working of liver, kidneys and adrenal glands.
Boosting immune system of body
Preventing high blood pressure
If you want to enjoy the benefits of sea salt, make sure you buy unrefined sea salt which contains the minerals that gives it an edge over table salt. However, the impurities in sea salt does not make it fully safe either!
When is Table Salt Safe
Table salt, although stripped of all minerals except iodine, can also be safe to be used. For this the use of table salt should be in the range fit for human consumption. Also, one must watch out for such food additives as anti caking agents etc. which must be used in tolerable amount. For example, the tolerance of aluminum calcium silicate is 2 percent. It is generally recognized as safe when used in table salt in accordance with good manufacturing practice. Calcium silicate has tolerance of 2-5 percent. It is generally recognized as safe when used at levels not exceeding 2 percent in table salt. Magnesium silicate, sodium aluminosilicate, hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate, Tricalcium silicate etc. all are considered safe when used at levels not exceeding 2 percent in table salt.
What to Use- Sea Salt or Table Salt?
By weight, sea salt and table salt contain approximately the same amount of sodium chloride. Human body requires only a few hundred milligrams (mg) of sodium chloride a day to stay healthy. However, most of the people take too much of it, usually from sodium in processed foods. Regardless of which type of salt you prefer, one should keep the sodium consumption between 1,500 and 2,300 mg of sodium a day if he/she is an average healthy adult. Some people should keep their sodium consumption even lower than this. These people include those having high blood pressure, African-Americans and middle-aged or senior persons.