Have you bought salt lately? Are you unsure as to what kind you should buy? Which is the best for your health? What is better for baking? Which has the best taste? Most salt shakers we use today are filled with table salt. Table salt is mined from underground deposits to contain 99.9 percent of sodium and chloride. It has a fine, granulated texture and dissolves quickly. This makes it a great salt for cooking and baking. Most table salt also includes iodine as well as calcium silicate, an anti-caking additive to prohibit clumps. Iodine is also added to salt as our bodies need small amounts of iodine. It is added to salt so we are able to get in the required amounts of this important nutrient.
Kosher salt, another type of salt, also consists of the chemical compound sodium chloride. However, Kosher salt is a larger, coarser grain that adds a crunchy texture to some dishes and drinks, such as margaritas. Except for possibly an anti-caking additive, it does not contain any added minerals or preservatives. The term "kosher salt" is not used in accordance with the guidelines for kosher foods (most all salt is kosher, including table salt) but rather for its use for making meats kosher. The large granules help draw moisture out of meats and are used in the curing process.
Sea salt, another type now found in grocery stores, is sold either fine-grained or in larger crystals. It is produced by the evaporation of seawater. It is primarily sodium chloride, but it does contain small amounts of iron, sulfur, magnesium, and other trace minerals, which gives it a somewhat different flavor than ordinary table salt. Sea salt is commonly used in gourmet cooking and in specialty potato chips, such as kettle cooked chips.
Which salt is better for health? All three salts contain the same amount of sodium by weight, but kosher and sea salts contain less sodium by volume due to their larger more coarse granules. For example, a 1/2-teaspoon of kosher salt has slightly less sodium than a 1/2-teaspoon of table salt. However, this amount of kosher salt will taste less "salty" than the same amount of table salt; and, therefore, some people end up adding more to get the taste they like. You may have also seen Lite salt on the market shelves. This is half sodium chloride (table salt) and half potassium chloride (salt substitute). It has less sodium than table salt, but it is not sodium-free.
Sodium is linked to high blood pressure. No matter which salt you choose, it is important to aim for moderation. The newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourage us to reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams and further reduce intake to 1,500 milligrams among persons who are 51 and older. African Americans or anyone who has hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should also limit their sodium. One teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt) is about2,300 milligrams.