Rating: Cut back
Flavoring, preservative: Seasoning, soup, snack chips, crackers, and other processed foods.
Sea salt is obtained from the evaporation of sea water, unlike most table salt, which is mined from salt deposits, and then further processed to remove impurities. Many sea salts have slightly different flavors than regular salt—due to their slightly different mineral content—but the typical variety used in processed foods does not.
Sales of sea salt and sea-salted products are booming, and marketers would have you believe sea salt is a healthier, more natural form of salt. Although a majority of people surveyed by the American Heart Association believed sea salt was a lower-sodium alternative to table salt, sea salt has just as much sodium as table salt. (You can find lower-sodium sea salt and other salts; these are made by mixing the salt (sodium chloride) with potassium chloride and other ingredients.) The trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals in sea salt are so minor as to be insignificant to health. However, some sea salts, as well as kosher salt (which sometimes is from the sea), have larger crystal sizes with irregular shapes so they do not pack as tightly as table salt and therefore they have less sodium per teaspoon.
Most people should consume less salt (be it regular or sea salt), because diets high in sodium increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.