Sea salt

  • Our verdict: 1 - all right
  • Origin: It is produced from natural sources that are not further chemically treated.

Sea salt is a type of salt derived from the evaporation of seawater. It is composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), but also contains trace amounts of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which can give it a more complex flavour compared to table salt. Sea salt is often less refined than table salt and can be found in various forms, including fine grains and larger crystals.

Origin

Sea salt is of natural origin. It is harvested through the evaporation of seawater, a process that can be done using traditional or modern methods. Traditional methods involve collecting seawater in large, shallow ponds where it is left to evaporate under the sun. Modern methods may use more controlled environments to speed up the evaporation process. The resulting salt is then collected, cleaned, and packaged for use.

Characteristics

  • Flavour: Contains trace minerals that contribute to a complex flavour profile.
  • Texture: Available in different textures, from fine grains to coarse crystals, adding a variety of sensory experiences to food.
  • Aesthetic: Often used as a finishing salt due to its visually appealing crystals.
  • Natural Composition: Less processed than table salt, retaining more of its natural mineral content.
  • Versatility: Used in cooking, baking, and as a finishing touch to enhance the taste of dishes.

Uses in Ultra‑Processed Foods

Sea salt is utilized in ultra‑processed foods for several reasons:

  • Flavour Enhancement: Sea salt is used to enhance the overall flavour profile of processed foods. The trace minerals in sea salt contribute to a more nuanced taste, making it a preferred choice over regular table salt for gourmet and specialty products.
  • Texture Improvement: Coarse sea salt can add a desirable crunch to snacks and baked goods. This textural element can enhance the eating experience, making the food more enjoyable.
  • Preservation: Like other salts, sea salt acts as a preservative, extending the shelf life of processed foods by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and mold. This is particularly important in processed meats, canned goods, and packaged snacks.
  • Marketing Appeal: The perception of sea salt as a more natural and healthy alternative to regular table salt can be leveraged in marketing. Products containing sea salt are often marketed as premium or artisanal, appealing to health‑conscious consumers.
  • Mineral Content: The trace minerals in sea salt can contribute to the nutritional profile of processed foods, albeit in small amounts. This can be used to justify health claims on packaging, even if the actual nutritional difference is minimal.

Health Considerations

While sea salt is often perceived as a healthier alternative to table salt, it is important to be aware of potential health considerations:

  • Sodium Intake: Regardless of its source, salt is high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease if consumed in excess. The use of sea salt should be moderated to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Purity: Some sea salt products may contain contaminants from the ocean, such as microplastics and heavy metals. Choosing high‑quality, reputable brands can help mitigate this risk.
  • Dehydration: Excessive intake of sea salt can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, especially in individuals with kidney issues or those who do not consume enough water.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Sea salt vs. table salt: What's the difference?. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org
  2. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). The Nutrition Source: Sodium and Salt. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu
  3. Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Sea Salt vs. Table Salt: Benefits and Drawbacks. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org
  4. National Research Council (US) Committee on Minerals and Toxic Substances in Diets and Water for Animals. (2005). Mineral Tolerance of Animals: Second Revised Edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov