Q. Do all types of salt contain sodium? Is any one healthier than another?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 12 November 2013.
Tagged: healthy cooking, salt

Q. Do all types of salt contain sodium? Is any one healthier than another?

THE QUESTION IN FULL

Q. We have been advised not to add salt to our food as my husband has high blood pressure. Do all types of salt contain sodium and is any one type of salt healthier than the others? I use small quantities of sea salt in cooking.

A. If your husband has high blood pressure, it would be prudent to keep your total salt intake as low as you practically manage. 

This is because around 75 per cent of all our salt comes from commercial everyday foods like cheese, ham, bread, cereals, sauces, baked beans and spreads (even though they don't taste especially salty) so it makes sense to buy any supermarket foods in salt-reduced or no-added-salt form.

Reduced-salt stock, soy sauce and unsalted margarines/butters are also a good idea for your kitchen.

When cooking, use:

  • lots of fresh or dried herbs such as basil, parsley and mint
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • tomato
  • lemon juice
  • wine
  • chilli
  • pure curry powder.

These all help to create flavour when you cut out salt.

Yes all kinds of salt contain sodium (salt is sodium chloride) and there's no benefit for you by switching to any one over the other. You simply have to cut out all of them and allow your palate to get used to the taste of less salt in your food. Which takes about two weeks and then you won't mind!

Sea salt, rock salt and pink river/lake salt, even though they claim to be 'natural', have at least 97 per cent sodium chloride (sometimes more - 99 per cent) so are still a form of salt and high in sodium. They are NOT an effective substitute for ordinary salt and all must be limited if you're on a low-salt diet. You can read more about the different types here.

Light salts

You can try a 'light salt' for a while if you need something to add to cooking and to season your meals - it's a blend of 50% potassium chloride with 50% sodium chloride and allows you to halve your salt intake without giving up the taste of salt. It's worth a try initially.