Whether it is table salt, sea salt, or kosher salt, all types of salt are composed of two minerals: sodium and chloride. Light salt contains about half the sodium of table salt and some contain potassium chloride. The differences between these salts are a topic often brought up for discussion.
The differences in the salts lie in their origin and how they were processed. This affects the taste and texture. Sodium content is different among the salts due to the difference in the granule size.
Table salt is made up of small, uniformly shaped crystals. It is processed to eliminate trace minerals and achieve a consistent flow. Many are iodized, which means iodine is added to prevent goiters. It is a preferred salt for baking due to the fine granules that quickly dissolve. In 1 teaspoon of table salt there are 2300mg. of sodium.
Sea salt is produced when sea water evaporates. Natural processing by the sun and wind leaves behind some trace minerals and elements. This small amount of minerals adds flavor and colors ranging from white to black. It is often sprinkled on foods right before serving. There are 1570mg. of sodium in 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
Kosher salt is a type of salt made without additives. It gets its name from the curing process used on kosher meats. 1760 mg. of sodium are found in a teaspoon of kosher salt. It has a mild clean taste and a distinct coarse texture.
There are also the light salts. These have about half of the sodium of regular table salt. They can be used for baking, cooking and at the table. Some contain potassium chloride, therefore they should not be used by those with kidney disease or those taking medication that contain potassium.
Recommendations for sodium in the diet range from 1500 to 2300mg. Understanding the differences between the salts and the amount of sodium in the salts helps you meet your dietary goals for sodium in the diet.
Source: Diabetic Cooking, May/June 2011.
Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.