Sea Salt and High Blood Pressure

This blog entry again focuses on reader-requested commentary. There were a lot of requests to discuss salt in the diet and how that actually affects blood pressure, but one in particular asked specifically about differences in sea salt and table salt.

There has been a lot in advertising lately to tout the change in soup and other canned or processed foods to the use of sea salt as an ingredient. This is primarily a response to public outcry that sodium is bad, and low-sodium foods taste boring and gross.

So what exactly is the difference? To understand this, you need to look at what you are ingesting when you use the 2 different kinds of salt.

First, the traditional table salt:

Table salt has been, and still is, widely used to season foods and make them a lot tastier. The problem with this is that aside from training your taste buds to love food that is terrible for you, this salt is very high in absorbable sodium.

Most nutritionists are recommending now that the maximum amount of traditional salt should be limited to 1 teaspoon per day. Are you kidding? Most people eat more than that in one breakfast…consider the low-carb lovers who eat turkey bacon and eggs in the morning.

Even public school districts are changing the way they look at school lunches to try and reduce the extremely high levels of salt, and therefore sodium, in the foods they serve. This is no easy trick since feeding that many children is no cheap feat.

Most of the least expensive food products are also the pre-packaged ones, and offering fresh, raw fruits and vegetables (that a lot of kids won’t eat if given a choice between the two) is very, very expensive. Cuts in funding at the state and local level have districts scrambling to find healthy but affordable alternatives.

Is sea salt a good alternative, then?

It depends.

Both types of salt have sodium, or they wouldn’t be salt. The amount is even generally very close to being the same.

What makes sea salt a more attractive alternative for a lot of people is that sea salt has a lot less tinkering involved to bring it to the table. By tinkering I mean refinement and processing.

Table salt is collected from underground mines. Sea salt is collected from the sea. The difference is that table salt has 3 additional steps involved before reaching you and your food: 1) it is refined to remove trace chemicals (something that sea salt keeps, to maintain flavor); 2) iodine is added, a critical element of thyroid health; and 3) a compound to prevent clumping is added.

Sea salt generally is not subject to this same processing, although there again, it depends upon the company selling it and what they do to it before they put it in the bottle.

What can everyone agree on?

Here is the list based upon my research:

1) To stay healthy, limit your sodium to 200 mg per day if you can. Less than that causes problems, but so does a lot more. It doesn’t matter if it’s sea salt or table salt. Both are sodium chloride. Limit the use of both if you are working on high blood pressure.

2) Sea salt generally has less refinement, and for most foods the less you do to it the better and healthier the food winds up being.

3) Sea salt tastes better. Part of what makes sea salt a great choice is where it comes from. Salts from different areas of the world will have different flavors because of the other minerals in the seawater. Similar ground minerals are removed in table salt during refinement.

4) If you don’t use table salt…ever…you will need an iodine supplement. Goiter is a growing problem in industrialized nations because of the limits we are now placing on salt. However, it’s better to limit salt and supplement later than overdo your sodium intake

*While this last point could have been how we leave it for you today, I would offer that finding a good iodine supplement is now going to be difficult to do. I was just reading about the 2 major manufacturers of potassium iodide, the most common iodine supplement, and their supply problems.

This is because of the hysteria over the nuclear reactor and radiation concerns coming out of Japan. It is unfortunate to see this kind of hoarding occur for 3 reasons: It is not necessary to spend that kind of money on a supplement you wouldn’t normally need, it removes the supply from the hands of people who really do need it, and it only prevents radioactive iodide absorption to the thyroid gland…not radiation from other sources, or to other organs.

So it is with this last bit of info that I let you make your own decisions about the salt you eat and the supplements you take, hopefully giving you enough to make a well-informed decision for yourself and your family.

For more information on what you can do naturally to reduce your blood pressure, have a look at my program forlowering high blood pressure, and keep those article requests coming.

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But first, I’d really appreciate it if you click the Facebook button below and share this articles with your friends. And then, of course, submit your comment below.

17 comments

  1. Christian,

    I understand why children today hate fruit – because most commercially grown fruit is horrible.

    Apricots and strawberries shouln’t be crunchy let alone sour. Yet the experience of biting into an apricot or strawberry – no matter how beautiful they looks – is yuk. That luscious-looking strawberry is crunchy, hollow, white-fleshed and tasteless because it has been bred for looks, travel and supermarket shelf life. Ditto that perfectly coloured apricot.

    Real apricots and strawberries are soft and sweet. We grow strawberries and have an apricot tree. Generally the snails and the parrots beat us to the fruit, but we get some.

    Regarding apples, in Australia, a spokesman for one of the supermarket duopolies that pride themselves on being “the fresh food people” actually said that ‘fresh’ means “non-processed”. Their “fresh” fruit had been warehoused for up to a year. And their “fresh” meat was packaged to last up to four months.

    I don’t blame the duopoly, Christian. I blame all the stupid people who shop to get the lowest prices instead of looking for and being willing to pay for quality food.

    Don’t you think it’s time to stop mollycoddling people and insist they take responsibility for their choices?

  2. Isn’t there something called potassium salt (potassium chloride)that can be used instead of sodium salt (sodium chloride) or is that what you mean by potassium iodide?

  3. Furthermore, Christian,

    Surely there’s a huge difference between the varieties of salt that are on sale.

    I don’t know but I’d expect that the cheapest is pure sodium chloride that most likely is a by-product of industry.

    Pure sodium chloride would have been rare in human history when salt was prized and mined.

    Mined salt or sea salt contains many, many other elements essential to health.

  4. Dr. Oz says that there is no difference between table salt and sea salt. He says that the sodium content is the same in both. When you read the sodium content and compare the 2 labels, sea salt sodium content is actually higher than that of the table salt content per-teaspoon.

  5. I APPRECIATE THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TABLE SALT AND SEA SALT. I ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW. MY BROTHER ALWAYS HAS BOUGHT SEA SALT FOR MY MOTHER AND MYSELF. IT DOES TASTE BETTER, AND I HAVE BEEN USING IT MORE THAN TABLE SALT. I DO REALIZE THAT YOU STILL HAVE TOBE CAREFUL OF HOW MUCH YOU USE. MODERATION IS THE KEY. THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE.

  6. Christian:

    Yet another sensible, well-researched, non-panic article on sea-versus-table salt. Thank you for helping keep us sane!!

    As ever,

    Alvaro

  7. do you know anything about a salt substitute called cardia

  8. You recommend a maximum of 200 milligrams of salt per day. Don’t you mean 2000 milligrams per day? I don’t believe 200 is achievable – one slice of bread typically has 130 milligrams.

  9. There is much more to add to the info given in this posting. I made the change ‘French’ Celtic Sea Salt after I became aware of a New Zealand Master Herbalist, Malcolm K. Harker M.H.D. & obtained a copy of his Thesis ‘The New Zealand Family Health & Healing Lifestyle Manual’. I recommend it to anyone serious about their long term health. My choice for ‘French’ Celtic Sea Salt is related directly to the methodology employed in the mining procedure & that it is not otherwise processed or messed with. Heaps of background reading on the Internet. Good health to all!

  10. Where does Kosher salt fall in the mix of recommended salts?

  11. I have got to admit that I thought Iodine had been taken out of salt for
    some reason. I was looking for it in Sainsburys our local very large
    supermarket, but I was told that iodised salt was not stocked, so I bought
    some sea salt. I understand that it is not used in processed foods either, so
    where do our children get iodine from. It is of course essential to their
    mental health. You can order it apparently from British Salt

  12. why do we think sodium is bad? Only about 15% of people had a marked positive response to restricted sodium, and the majority had a negative response. (in terms of overall health). Heatstroke still is a depletion of sodium, and if your serum sodium falls, you are seriously ill.

  13. I read all the things you send to my e-mail with great interest, but I keep hoping you would write about depression and anxiety, and panic attacks. Would you be writing on these subjects in the future? I know these are a very real problem for a lot of people, including myself. Thank you

  14. I found youyr report on sea salt compared with mineral salt so very interesting and informative. I know that too much is bad, and I see members of my family literally pouring mineral salt on to their food. Being thevery senior member of my family I know that they do not take a lot of interest in my views on the subject…. so be it, but I Do know and can be told of important things regarding health. I thank you so much for your guidance. Jack.

  15. I like to use kosher salt over sea salt or table salt. It has no preservatives, less expensive than sea salt, and the texture makes it easy to handle…ie pinch.

    -Jeff
    Breville 800Jexl Review

  16. Where does one find sea salt? I have never come across it.

  17. I know that too much is bad, and I see members of my family literally pouring mineral salt on to their food. Being thevery senior member of my family I know that they do not take a lot of interest in my views on the subject…. so be it, but I Do know and can be told of important things regarding health. breville juice fountain elite 800jexl

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