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Salt by Any Other Name is… Salt

BY KIM HUGHES –

Kosher salt, sea salt and table salt all have the same nutritional value.  They contain at least 97 ½ percent sodium chloride.

For the cook’s purposes, however, the difference between salts is in their texture.  Table salt’s fine granules dissolve quickly, making it the preferred salt of bakers.  Sea salt and kosher salt possess larger, irregular grains that add a crunch and hint of briny flavor when sprinkled on food at the last minute.

Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits, and includes a small portion of calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent added to prevent clumping.  It possesses very fine crystals and a sharp taste.  Because of its fine grain, as single teaspoon of table salt contains more salt – thus more sodium – than a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt.

Sea salt is harvested from seawater through evaporation and receives little or no processing; leaving intact the minerals from the water it came from.  These minerals flavor and color the salt slightly.  However, because these salts are usually expensive, it is worth keeping in mind that they lose their unique flavor when cooked or dissolved.

Kosher salt takes its name from its use in the koshering process.  It contains no preservatives and can be derived from either seawater or underground sources.  It is particularly useful in preserving because its large crystals draw moisture out of meats and other foods more effectively than other salts.

The newest salt on the market, Himalayan salt, is pink and claims to have a higher nutritional value than table or regular sea salt, but I could not find any scientific research that backs these claims.  Every website I found also sells the salt, so at this time it cannot be recommended.

Regardless of the type of salt you prefer to use, numerous organizations, including the National Academy of Science’ Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association, recommend between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day for healthy adults.

In other words, one teaspoon of salt!

For more nutrition information, please contact your Polk County Cooperative Extension Office at 211 DeQueen Street in Mena, or call us at 479-394-6018.

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