• With the growing interest for gastronomy and the wide range of flavours and unique varieties available, many people wonder what the best salt to cook with is and if some varieties are better than others for health. What about you? What do you think? Discover the most popular options, the impacts of sodium, and the best salt for health!

    Table Salt

    Did you know…

    that in North America table salt is always fortified with iodine to prevent goiter? Don’t even know what goiter is? Well, it’s the irregular growth of the thyroid gland due to an iodine deficiency. That being said, iodine is present in many foods such as fishes, dairy products, and legumes. It is therefore not necessary to eat table salt to avoid this pathology.

    Table salt is a fine salt composed primarily of sodium chloride (also known as NaCl). It is found in salt deposits that were formed long ago when saline bodies of water dried out.

    It is first collected in mines, then refined by removing impurities. Anticaking agents are also added to prevent large crystals from forming in the presence of humidity. Finally, this versatile ingredient is used during cooking to add flavours!

    Specialty Salts

    The main differences between specialty salts and table salt are the flavour, texture, and processing. In contrast with table salt, most speciality alternatives derive from evaporated sea water found in shallow basins warmed by the sun or from salt deposits buried into the ground. Then, they are only minimally processed, which is why their crystals are larger than those of NaCl.

    Depending on their origin, their taste, colour, and size may therefore vary. Besides, these products are often given the name of the sea or region where they come from.

    Sea salt

    Sea salt is simply the result of evaporated sea water that was not enriched with iodine. It is particularly appreciated for its characteristic taste and can be used to cook food or as a finishing touch in a dish.

    Himalayan pink salt

    This type comes from Pakistani mines. It is both a sea and earth salt since the mines are located in an ancient seabed (like table salt!). It is usually available in very large crystals but can also be found in small granules. Due to its iron oxide content, it has a beautiful pinkish colour, which is why it is often used as a finishing touch.

    Fleur de sel

    Fleur de sel comes from the first crystallisation of sea salt. Carefully harvested by hand on the surface of salt beds, it is much saltier than other varieties. It is also finer, more flavourful, and crispier than sea salt.

    GOOD TO KNOW: Starred chefs prefer to use fleur de sel, because it perfectly flavours sweet or salty dishes once cooked. It’s almost considered a crime to grind it in a salt mill!

    Kosher salt

    This product is basically table salt with no food additive. It usually comes in large granules and can be used for any type of meal. Because of the crystals’ size, kosher salt does not dissolve as quickly as table salt.

    Its name comes from a Jewish practice that consists of brining meat with this salt to remove as much blood as possible. Reddened by the blood, the salt is rinsed off and the meat can then be consumed.

    What Is Salt Made Of?

    Mineral content

    Since specialty salts are less processed than regular salt, they contain some minerals such as potassium, iron, and calcium, which is why they are often said to have superior nutritional values. In comparison, table salt only contains sodium due to its intensive processing.

    However, minerals found in specialty salts are in minimal proportions. Your daily diet easily fulfills these needs, which makes the consumption of these salts unsignificant for health.

    Sodium content

    Both types of salt have a similar sodium content, that is 400mg per g. That being said, specialty salt crystals are larger than those of table salt.

    Therefore, if you measure your specialty salt with a volume measuring tool (a teaspoon, for example), you will need a smaller quantity than for the same volume of table salt.

    Besides, it’s the reason why so many people say specialty salts such as Himalayan pink salt have a lower sodium content. Yet, all salts have a similar quantity, and none is truly better than the others.

    GOOD TO KNOW: Want to lower your sodium intake? Read this article to find out how!

    Sodium and health

    Sodium is an essential nutrient for the human body. Indeed, a 1000 to 1500mg daily intake is sufficient for most Canadians, depending on their age and sex. However, to minimize the adverse effects it may have on health, such as hypertension (main risk factor of cardiovascular diseases and strokes), a maximum daily intake of 2300 mg is recommended.

    Yet, according to 2017 studies, the average sodium intake of Canadians is estimated at 2760mg per day, which corresponds to 120% of the recommended amount.

    All in all, we should all make efforts to decrease our sodium intake. Whether that’s by avoiding transformed products or by simply removing the saltshaker from the table, any effort is welcomed!