Are Some Salts Healthier Than Others? (2022)

Salt is available in a variety of colors and textures to enhance your cooking experience and make your dishes more savory. Salt is essential for bringing out the natural flavor of foods—one of the main reasons chefs use it. Salt can also be used as a preservative.

Some salts are considered healthier than others, such as pink Himalayan salt and different types of sea salt. These are revered for their taste and texture compared to regular table salt. They are also preferred by some because most (but not all) are less processed and may contain more trace minerals. But all salts are healthy in moderation since they contain sodium, which is a necessary part of a balanced diet. Though essential for the body, sodium is potentially harmful when consumed in excess. And too little or too much salt can affect the flavor and chemistry of food.

While specialty salts do contain more minerals like magnesium and potassium, there is no healthiest or best salt. A 2020 study examined consumer-grade pink Himalayan sea salts available in Australia and determined that in order to receive the additional health benefits of the minerals this type of salt contains, you would have to consume so much that it would elevate the amount of sodium in your body to dangerous levels.

Learn the differences among popular types of salt, how each might affect food preparation and health, and why choosing the "best" salt is really just a matter of personal preference.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a mineral made from the combined elements of sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Together, they form the crystallized substance sodium chloride (NaCl). As an abundant mineral in the ocean, the majority of salt produced comes from evaporated seawater and salt mines.

Many salts used in food preparation are iodized. Iodine is added to many refined salt products to help people meet their nutritional requirements. If a person's iodine intake falls below recommended values and results in a deficiency, then a person may develop goiter. Goiter is associated with hypothyroidism. Lack of iodine can also have adverse effects in children and unborn babies if the pregnant person does not consume enough.

Why Salt Is Essential for Health

Salt sustains human life and optimal bodily function. There is plenty of research on salt and how it affects your health, but rigorous studies comparing different types of salts are still lacking. Without enough evidence, it’s important to take marketing claims about specialty salts with a grain of salt.

According to Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and founder of Olive Tree Nutrition, salt is salt, meaning that by weight, any type of salt contains the same amount of sodium.

Both sodium and chlorine are important elements that maintain cellular balance, circulation, and blood sugar levels. Sodium is both a mineral and an electrolyte. Common electrolytes also include potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate. Without adequate sodium, your brain would not be able to send necessary electrical impulses to the rest of your body to function properly.

Just as the body requires the right amount of sodium, consuming too much salt can be unhealthy. Higher salt intake in people who are salt-sensitive can increase blood pressure, so doctors usually recommend that people with hypertension reduce their sodium intake or follow a low-sodium diet.

Elevated sodium levels can also cause water retention. This is considered a protective response as the body works to regulate levels of serum sodium concentration in the blood and maintain balance.

When these levels are too high, a condition known as hypernatremia can develop, which may cause excessive thirst, vomiting, infrequent urination, and diarrhea. By contrast, when sodium levels are too low, it can lead to hyponatremia, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and confusion. A blood test will determine whether your serum sodium concentration is high, low, or normal.

One teaspoon of salt contains around 2,360mg of sodium. Though there are many different types of salt, they all contain roughly the same amount of sodium. This means that no salt is actually healthier than another.

Hidden Sources of Sodium and How to Reduce Your Intake

Types of Salt

The 2020–2025 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a maximum intake of 2,300mg of sodium per day. But according to federal guidelines, the average intake by adults is closer to 3,393mg of sodium per day, ranging anywhere between 2,000–5,000mg.

Whether it's unhealthy dietary choices like processed foods or incorrect assumptions about the sodium content of salts used for cooking, the average American consumes too much salt. A recent survey conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA), showed that 61% of respondents inaccurately stated that sea salt had a lower sodium content than table salt.

Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, formerchairof theAmerican Heart Association's nutrition committee and retired professor emeritus of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont, agrees that sea salt often has as much sodium as table salt—about 40% sodium by weight according to the AHA.

All salt has the same amount of sodium by weight, but that amount can differ by volume depending on the size of the crystal. Smaller crystals will have more sodium per teaspoon than larger crystals but will have the same sodium when measuring in grams.

(Video) Which Type of Salt is The Healthiest? | The Cooking Doc®

Like other health experts, Johnson recommends monitoring your salt intake to maintain heart health. She says if you’re consuming more sea salt because you believe it has less sodium, you may be placing yourself at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, which raises your risk of heart disease.

While all salts contain the same amount of sodium, they still differ in taste, texture, and presence of other minerals. The following comparisons of different types of salt will help you decide if specialty salts are really worth the investment.

Table Salt (Refined Salt)

Refined table salt, also known as iodized salt, is a fine, granulated salt commonly used in cooking. This type of salt is highly refined to remove any impurities and eliminate any trace minerals often found in specialty salts. Because table salt is finely ground, anti-caking agents are added to ensure the salt doesn't clump together. Some table salts also have added sugar and other additives.

Refined table salt is about 97–99% sodium chloride (NaCl). In many countries including the U.S., iodine is added to prevent iodine deficiency. If you're trying to reduce your sodium intake, it's important to meet your iodine intake with food sources like eggs, dairy products, fish, and seaweed.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is a coarse, flakey salt. When used in cooking, it can add a crunchy texture to dishes and drinks. Compared to refined table salt, pure kosher salt does not typically contain additives like anti-caking agents and iodine. The size of kosher salt crystals is ideal for drawing out moisture, including blood, from meat, which is the koshering process in traditional Jewish law.

Per teaspoon, kosher salt generally has less sodium than 1 teaspoon of table salt. But that's because kosher salt has a coarser grain, so less salt fits in the spoon.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is produced by evaporating seawater and can be purchased either as fine grains or large crystals. Examples include Black Sea, Celtic, French (fleur de sel), and Hawaiian sea salt.

Sea salt can have trace amounts of minerals like iron, potassium, and zinc, which may offer a different flavor in cooking but no additional health benefits when a normal amount is consumed. Some sea salts may also contain trace amounts of microplastics, but research indicates these amounts are too low to warrant any public health concerns.

Himalayan Salt (Pink Salt)

Himalayan pink salt is mined in the red rolling hills of the salt range in Khewra, Pakistan at the second largest salt mine in the world. It's known as a finishing salt because it is generally used at the end of cooking to add flavor and a crunchy texture to a meal. Trace amounts of rust (iron oxide) give this salt its pink color.

Pink salt is also mined in Maras, Peru in the Andes mountains. Andean pink salt is a paler pink than Himalayan salt and has a similar mineral flavor.

Himalayan salt is widely touted for its health benefits due to its mineral properties, but there are no known health advantages to using Himalayan salt over other types of salt, as noted by the 2020 study conducted in Australia. The researchers concluded that "any potential health benefits provided by the higher nutrient content in pink salt would be counteracted by the large amount of sodium that would also be consumed." Additionally, this same team of researchers also tested a sample of pink salt imported from Peru and found trace amounts of lead that exceeded levels considered to be safe.

Despite their differences, specialty salts still contain the same amount of sodium by weight as regular table salt and do not have any additional health benefits.

Seasoned and Smoked Salt

Seasoned salt—such as celery salt, garlic salt, or onion salt—is salt mixed with herbs and flavorings. To reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, it is best to use the herbs on their own instead of the seasoned salt, as they don’t contain any sodium. Some brands of seasoned salt sell reduced-sodium options, however.

Smoked salt is smoked with wood for up to two weeks, which infuses the salt with a smoky flavor that varies depending on the type of wood used. Typical choices include hickory, mesquite, applewood, and oak. Like specialty salts, smoked salts likely contain the same amount of sodium as table salt.

Salt Substitutes

Salt substitutes are salts that substitute some or all of the sodium with potassium, magnesium, or another mineral. Salt substitutes can be half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) can also be used as an alternative to salt. A 2020 study found that swapping salt with MSG is not only safe but was comparable to the flavor of salt.

Salt substitutes are often used by people on a sodium-restricted diet, but you should check with your doctor before using these products, especially if you have kidney problems.

Choosing the Best Salt

Salt remains essential for health, wellness, and cooking—and while not all salts are created equal in terms of taste and texture, all salts are equally healthy when consumed in normal amounts. The sodium content of different salts is roughly the same, with only minimal differences in trace amounts of minerals as shown in this table.

Trace Minerals in Salt
SodiumPotassiumMagnesiumIron
Table Salt

39.1%

0.09%

(Video) Kitchen Invasion Health Tip #11: Are Some Salts Healthier Than Others?

<0.01%

<0.01%

Sea Salt

38.3%

0.08%

0.05%

<0.01%

Himalayan Salt

36.8%

0.28%

0.1%

0.0004%

Celtic Sea Salt

33.8%

0.16%

0.3%

0.014%

The mineral content comparison for different types of salt is considered insignificant, and shouldn’t be taken into consideration when choosing a salt. You can often get enough essential minerals in your diet simply by choosing healthy, whole foods.

9 Dietary Trace Minerals and Foods High in Them

Choosing the best salt comes down to taste, preference, and cooking style. If you’re looking for a crunchy texture with some color to add a finishing touch to your meals, pink Himalayan salt is a great choice. If you're cooking with salt, you can always use sea salt, kosher salt, and regular table salt depending on the flavor you're hoping to achieve. Keep in mind that specialty salts are often more expensive per ounce than table salt and kosher salt. Here's how they compare on average:

  • Table salt: $0.06 cents per ounce or less
  • Kosher salt: $0.05 cents per ounce
  • Sea salt: $0.10 cents per ounce or slightly less
  • Pink Himalayan salt: $.0.35 to $1.00 per ounce

A Word From Verywell

Salt is used for flavor—not to add nutritional value (with the exception of iodine). Still, getting the right amount of salt in your diet plays an essential role in maintaining optimal health. You can try different types of specialty salt to make your meals more versatile and savory, but be sure to keep an eye on your sodium intake. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor about salt substitutes that are safe for you to try.

Remember, research about different salt types is still lacking, but the consensus among health experts is that there is no one best or healthiest salt. Trace minerals found in differing salts do not provide additional health benefits, and trace mineral differences among salts shouldn't be a selling point.

(Video) Are Different Salts Healthier than Others?

Foods That Are Surprisingly High in Sodium

9 Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Fayet-Moore F, Wibisono C, Carr P, et al. An analysis of the mineral composition of pink salt available in Australia.Foods. 2020;9(10). doi:10.3390/foods9101490

  2. Leung AM, Braverman LE, Pearce EN. History of U.S. iodine fortification and supplementation.Nutrients. 2012;4(11):1740-1746. doi:10.3390/nu4111740

  3. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Iodine: Fact Sheet for Professionals.

  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Sodium blood test.

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Salt.

  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition.

  7. American Heart Association. Sea Salt vs. Table Salt.

  8. Karami A, Golieskardi A, Keong Choo C, Larat V, Galloway TS, Salamatinia B. The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries.Sci Rep. 2017;7:46173. doi:10.1038/srep46173

  9. Halim J, Bouzari A, Felder D, Guinard JX.The Salt Flip: Sensory mitigation of salt (and sodium) reduction with monosodium glutamate (MSG) in "Better-for-You" foods.J Food Sci. 2020. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.15354

Additional Reading

(Video) Himalayan Salt vs. Sea Salt

Editorial Process

Our Review Board

Share Feedback

Was this page helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

What is your feedback?

(Video) Is sea salt healthier than table salt? | Nourishable Raw Episode 13

FAQs

Are Some Salts Healthier Than Others? ›

Remember, research about different salt types is still lacking, but the consensus among health experts is that there is no one best or healthiest salt. Trace minerals found in differing salts do not provide additional health benefits, and trace mineral differences among salts shouldn't be a selling point.

What is the healthiest salt to use? ›

Many experts recommend pink salt as one of the healthiest salts you can consume. Its popularity has made it more affordable than other more exotic salts on the market. Colored by the clay from where it's harvested, grey salt is often called Celtic Sea Salt.

Which salt is the least harmful? ›

Potassium salt

The most widely available and used product is Lo Salt. Potassium salts have up to 70% less sodium than standard table salt so do not carry the same high risks as sodium based salts. Potassium salts may even have a beneficial effect on your blood pressure because potassium is an antagonist of sodium.

Do different salts make a difference? ›

Sea salt is composed of larger, flakier crystals and what you "taste" is the crunchiness of the salt texture not its flavor. When you bite into a larger crystal of sea salt, you get "shots of flavor." But when you cook with sea salt and it dissolves into the rest of the ingredients, there is no difference.

Is pink Himalayan salt healthy? ›

However, research has not demonstrated that Himalayan salt has any unique health benefits compared to other dietary salt. The mineral impurities that give it a pink color, often promoted as healthful, are far too low in concentration to be nutritionally beneficial.

Is Himalayan salt healthier than regular salt? ›

Himalayan salt is believed by many to be a healthier alternative to common table salt, or sodium chloride. Though mined like rock salt, Himalayan pink salt is technically a sea salt. Salt is an essential nutrient required for many biological processes that has seasoned our dinners for thousands of years.

What is the cleanest salt? ›

Boulder Salt is processed efficiently by your body and with far less effort and waste than any salt that has come before it. This healthiest type of salt is not simply dug out of the earth or sea. Instead it is made of pure salts precisely blended into what the body needs without anything it doesn't need.

Is sea salt healthier than regular salt? ›

Is there a health advantage to eating sea salt? Most sea salts don't offer any real health advantages. The minute amounts of trace minerals found in sea salt are easily obtained from other healthy foods. Sea salt also generally contains less iodine (added to prevent goiter) than table salt.

Which salt is most natural? ›

Pink Himalayan salt derives from the mountains of the Himalayas. It's called the purest salt on earth because it's said to be uncontaminated with modern-day toxins or pollutants. Another benefit of Himalayan salt is it contains lower amounts of sodium than table salt.

Is Hawaiian salt better? ›

The iron content in red Hawaiian sea salt can play a small role in restoring iron levels in someone with a deficiency. Black salt from Kauai includes activated charcoal, which is used to detoxify. These are minerals that will typically be removed from table salt, which is why Hawaiian salt is healthier.

What is the truth about Himalayan salt? ›

The bottom line

At present, there is no scientific evidence to show that pink Himalayan salt provides more health benefits than regular table salt. Replacing fine-grain table salt with crystals of pink Himalayan salt may help to reduce sodium intake, but, as with any other salt, be sure to enjoy it in moderation.

How can I tell if my Himalayan salt is real? ›

Watch for these warning signs:
  1. It costs close to nothing and looks very white. ...
  2. It is very large and heavy, but gives out a lot of light. ...
  3. It is unbreakable. ...
  4. Your lamp handles moisture well. ...
  5. No changes in health and surrounding.
Dec 20, 2016

Does Himalayan salt raise blood pressure? ›

Dietary Benefits Of Pink Himalayan Salt

Controls high blood pressure as it is lower in sodium than table salt. Contrary to regular salt, pink Himalayan salt does not dehydrate you. In fact it aids with hydration as it helps maintaining fluid balance and blood pressure in your body.

What is the best salt substitute for high blood pressure? ›

Try herbs like rosemary, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, cilantro, sage, and celery seed. A squeeze of lemon or lime on some foods can provide that extra zip you need without the extra sodium.

Which salt is better iodized or not? ›

If you know you rarely eat foods that are natural sources of iodine, or if you have an increased iodine need for health reasons, then it's wise to stick to only iodized salt. For the rest of us, the answer is that both salts are a good choice.

Is pink Himalayan salt anti inflammatory? ›

Due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, Himalayan salt can help reduce joint inflammation and also reduce any associated stiffness and pain.

Which is better pink salt or sea salt? ›

In terms of its composition, pink Himalayan salt does have traces of more beneficial minerals than sea salt. While sea salt contains bits of 72 particles, pink Himalayan salt has “all 84 essential trace elements required by your body,” explains Dr.

Is pink salt the same as Himalayan salt? ›

Specifically, almost all pink salt is branded as Himalayan. Most of that comes from the enormous Khewra Salt Mine, situated between Islamabad and Lahore in Punjab, a bit south of the actual Himalayas in Pakistan.

What is the difference between sea salt and Hawaiian salt? ›

Hawaiian salt is like any other sea salt, harvested from the ocean, but the last rounds of drying are completed in beds dug into lava. The lava can be brick-red to black in color, so you'll see both “red Hawaiian salt” and “black Hawaiian salt” on the market.

What's the difference between Hawaiian salt and regular salt? ›

Our Alaea red Hawaiian sea salt is essentially the same as pink salt, but the latter has less alaea clay. The result is less mineral in flavor allowing the salt itself to shine. Less clay also means less moisture, so the salt won't melt.

Is there iodine in Hawaiian salt? ›

Our salt is naturally dried by the Hawaiian sun preserving its rich minerals such as calcium magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc, and iodine. People often call 'Alaea Salt Hawaiian Salt.

What is the best salt to use for high blood pressure? ›

In addition to 496 mg of sodium, Boulder Salt contains 150 mg of potassium, 140 mg of magnesium, 75 mg of calcium, 242 mg of bicarbonate and 750 mg of chloride. With all the salts that the body needs, Boulder Salt is simply the best salt for high blood pressure and those that want to optimize their salt intake.

What is a healthy substitute for salt? ›

Lemon Juice: Using lemons and lemon juice as an alternative to salt is a great way to brighten up the flavor of your food. Lemon juice pairs well with chicken, fish, vegetables, and even yogurt and desserts.

Is sea salt healthier than regular salt? ›

Is there a health advantage to eating sea salt? Most sea salts don't offer any real health advantages. The minute amounts of trace minerals found in sea salt are easily obtained from other healthy foods. Sea salt also generally contains less iodine (added to prevent goiter) than table salt.

Which is better pink salt or sea salt? ›

In terms of its composition, pink Himalayan salt does have traces of more beneficial minerals than sea salt. While sea salt contains bits of 72 particles, pink Himalayan salt has “all 84 essential trace elements required by your body,” explains Dr.

What is the least saltiest salt? ›

Kosher salt is very light and is less salty tasting because there's less of it per measure. Connoisseurs of salt like to cook with it because it's not expensive and has a pure salt taste.

Is pink Himalayan salt good for blood pressure? ›

Dietary Benefits Of Pink Himalayan Salt

Controls high blood pressure as it is lower in sodium than table salt. Contrary to regular salt, pink Himalayan salt does not dehydrate you. In fact it aids with hydration as it helps maintaining fluid balance and blood pressure in your body.

What is the truth about Himalayan salt? ›

The bottom line

At present, there is no scientific evidence to show that pink Himalayan salt provides more health benefits than regular table salt. Replacing fine-grain table salt with crystals of pink Himalayan salt may help to reduce sodium intake, but, as with any other salt, be sure to enjoy it in moderation.

What tastes like salt but no sodium? ›

Potassium Chloride

Salt substitutes made from potassium chloride alone look like regular salt and have a salty flavor, but have zero sodium.

How can I get a salty taste without salt? ›

What's A Good Way To Add A Salty Taste Without Using Salt?
  1. Use a variety of salt free seasonings. ...
  2. Use fresh lemons, limes, or most any citrus fruit. ...
  3. Try using different vinegars. ...
  4. Find foods with a tangy or tart flavor like pomegranates or berries like raspberries.

Is there any salt without sodium? ›

Completely Sodium Free.

Morton Salt Substitute is a sodium-free product designed for people on a doctor-recommended, sodium restricted diet.

Is pink salt the same as Himalayan salt? ›

Specifically, almost all pink salt is branded as Himalayan. Most of that comes from the enormous Khewra Salt Mine, situated between Islamabad and Lahore in Punjab, a bit south of the actual Himalayas in Pakistan.

Which salt is better iodized or not? ›

If you know you rarely eat foods that are natural sources of iodine, or if you have an increased iodine need for health reasons, then it's wise to stick to only iodized salt. For the rest of us, the answer is that both salts are a good choice.

Is iodized salt good for you? ›

Iodized salt also helps prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying in the intestines. Research shows that harmful bacteria can cause fatigue, constipation, and headaches. Promotes heart health and keeps you hydrated. Iodized salt helps create the hormones that regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Which salt has most minerals? ›

In fact, studies show Celtic salt has the least amount of sodium than any of the other salts mentioned on this list. It also has the highest amount of certain key minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.

Does Himalayan salt contain lithium? ›

Below is a spectral analysis of Himalayan pink salt as it is typically found. The list shows all the trace minerals, electrolytes, and elements contained in Himalayan salt.
...
Minerals in Himalayan Pink Salt: Spectral Analysis.
ElementLithium
IonLi
Atomic #3
Concentration0.40 g/kg
Method/SourceAAS
87 more columns

Can sea salt cause kidney stones? ›

Salt. If you eat a lot of sodium, which is an ingredient in salt, that raises the amount of calcium in your urine. Once you finish eating, any extra oxalate “sticks” to calcium in the kidneys. That can produce stones.

Videos

1. What's the Healthiest Salt to Use?
(Healing Starts From Within)
2. Using Salt to Optimize Mental & Physical Performance | Huberman Lab Podcast #63
(Andrew Huberman)
3. The Truth About Himalayan Sea Salt | Joe Rogan
(JRE Clips)
4. Stop Using Bleached Salt That Spikes Your Blood Pressure - Good vs Bad Salt
(FlavCity with Bobby Parrish)
5. SALT Nicotine VS Normal Nicotine Freebase. Which is Better?
(Steam On)
6. Healthy Salt? Can it be?
(Heart Matters)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Duncan Muller

Last Updated: 09/28/2022

Views: 5858

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duncan Muller

Birthday: 1997-01-13

Address: Apt. 505 914 Phillip Crossroad, O'Konborough, NV 62411

Phone: +8555305800947

Job: Construction Agent

Hobby: Shopping, Table tennis, Snowboarding, Rafting, Motor sports, Homebrewing, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Duncan Muller, I am a enchanting, good, gentle, modern, tasty, nice, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.