Today we are busting an odd myth. It’s one we hadn’t heard of until recently. When we first heard it, we thought we could dismiss it immediately. But, after thinking about it for a moment, we wondered if it had any merit.
Some claim sea salt is healthier for the heart than regular table salt. They say that it is beneficial because it is less processed and contains minerals. While that makes some sense, they will both impact blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
They have essentially the same nutritional value. “Your body also processes them the exact same way,” said Dr. Brittany Owen, a cardiologist at UT Physicians and Memorial Hermann.
We often equate natural with healthy. But, our team’s response to that claim is always the same: arsenic is natural. While it is true that ultra-processed foods are unhealthy, being unprocessed doesn’t immediately mean something is good for you! Natural products can be wonderful, but salt is salt.
The main differences in the salts aren’t in their health benefits but in their taste and texture. Table salt is granulated and fortified with iodine for thyroid health. Sea salt is usually in small crystals or flakes. It contains minerals that can change its color and taste. They have comparable sodium levels and therefore impact the heart the same way.
By weight, both types of salt contain about 40 percent sodium. Because of its odd shape, per teaspoon, sea salt has less sodium by volume. The amount of minerals in the sea salt doesn’t offer any health benefits as they are only there in traces. You’re better off eating foods that contain the minerals and cutting the sodium from your diet.
There is one last problem with the claim that sea salt is healthier. It’s made from evaporating seawater. That means it can contain pollution from the ocean. One of the largest sources of pollution in the ocean today is plastic. According to a study, most brands of sea salt contain microplastic. Scientists have been saying for years that they don’t know the full dangers microplastics pose to human health but think they exist. That tips the scale from “Sea salt isn’t better for us” to “sea salt might actually be even less healthy.”
When it comes to heart health, we love cooking with spices. We hate bland food! But the saltshaker is not the source of seasoning! It’s time to dive into your spice rack. The American Heart Association has determined which spices pair best with what foods. While we suggest adding garlic and onions to almost any savory dish, they go further, telling you which spices to reach for. They recommend using things like dry mustard for lean meats, nutmeg on chicken and turmeric for fish. They have an extensive list you can see here. You can think of spices in a whole new way! And, if you are more of a novice cook or don’t want to spend a lot of money on different bottles of spices, consider buying spice blend mixes like the ones from Mrs. Dash or Flavor Mate. They make seasoning your food easy and delicious!