We all know that we should reduce the amount of salt we eat. There are different kinds of salts available for us to purchase. Some salts are claimed to be healthier than the others and much pricier, but is there really a difference in how these salts may affect your health?
All types of salt are high in sodium. Our bodies need certain amounts of sodium to maintain a normal fluid balance. However, too much sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease. Majority of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods. Packaged and ready-to-eat foods, fast foods and restaurant foods are often high in sodium.
In Canada, most of us eat over 3000mg of sodium per day, which is more than double the amount we need. Healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium per day, up to 2300 mg sodium per day. Healthy children need only 1000 to 1500 mg of sodium per day. 1 tsp table salt contains around 2300 mg of sodium. Those who consume more than 2300 mg of sodium daily are likely to pose a health risk. People with existing health conditions such as high blood pressure or kidney disease should follow the advice of their health care providers and may need to aim for lower sodium intakes.
There are various types of salt available for you to add into your cooking, such as table salt, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, and kosher salt, to name a few. Table salt is the most common salt and is made up of sodium chloride, iodine and anti-caking agents to prevent clumping. Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater. It may contain a small amount of minerals and different flavors depending on their origins. Himalayan pink salt is harvested from a large salt mine in Pakistan. It has a pink color due to the presence of iron oxide. It also has small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Kosher salt is similar to table salt but with no additives or iodine added. It tastes “saltier” than table salt and has a coarse grain. Though sea salt and Himalayan pink salt contain several minerals not found in regular table salt, these minerals are found in very small quantities and choosing one type of salt over another is unlikely to significantly affect your health.
There are various ways you could effectively reduce sodium intake. When you are shopping at the grocery store, make sure to check the food labels and buy food with the lowest amount of sodium. Try to cook more at home and add little to no salt. Try using a variety of salt-free spices and herbs to add flavors. When you are eating at restaurants, choose food wisely. You could ask for sauces or dressing on the side and use small amounts.
Being aware of food marketing by checking the food labels instead of relying on marketing messages alone could help you select the healthier option. Though there is no difference in how these salts may affect your health, be sure to enjoy your preferred type in moderation.