Americans Think Sea Salt is Healthier Version of Table Salt


Is sea salt a low-sodium version of table salt? How much wine is good for the heart?

If you know the correct answers to these questions, you're in the minority of Americans, according to the LA Times. A new poll from the American Heart Association shows 61 percent of Americans believe that sea salt is a low-sodium version of table salt, and that only about 30 percent know the heart association has recommended daily limits on wine.

It's not clear why Americans think sea salt is a diet version of table salt, but the LA Times theorizes it may be our tendency to equate "natural" with "better for you." And the word "sea" just sounds more natural.

What's the actual difference? LA Times explains:

Both table salt and sea salt are mostly sodium chloride, a naturally occurring chemical combination of sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl), familiar elements on the periodic table.

Table salt is dug from underground mines, while sea salt is evaporated from—you guessed it—sea water. Sea salt may have a slightly different flavor and color because of trace amounts of 
other minerals found in seawater, including sulfate, magnesium and calcium, but its main ingredient is still sodium chloride. Further, table salt often has some iodine added to prevent iodine deficiency, as well as anti-caking agents.

Still, as the paper points out, salt is salt. If you want to cut sodium in your diet, try sprinkling in a herb blend.

The same survey from AHA showed 46 percent of Americans thought table salt is the primary source of sodium in American diets. In fact, most sodium that American consume -- about 75 percent -- comes from processed foods, soups and canned foods.

Only a quarter of adults know the daily recommended sodium limit for most people (1,500 milligrams).

In New York City, and nationwide, restaurants and food companies have begun reducing the amount of sodium in their foods in response to government pressure.

The National Institutes of Health offers these tips for reducing salt in your diet:

  • Buy fresh vegetables, or check for no-salt-added frozen or canned vegetables
  • Rinsed canned foods to remove some sodium
  • Cook with seasoning blends that have no salt added
  • Use fresh poultry and meat, not canned or processed

As for wine consumption, 76 percent of Americans said wine is good for the heart, as many scientists believe. But only 30 percent knows the AHA recommended daily limit: eight ounces of wine for men, four ounces women.

[LA Times]

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