It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Which types of salts have the least sodium?

By reading the labels, I have learned that different types of salts (sea, iodized, table, black etc.) have different sodium levels. Do you know which salts have the least amount?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Three wooden spoons holding three different coarsenesses of salt: coarse, medium, and fine (or table salt)

You are correct that sea salt products will be lower in sodium. This is because the crystals are larger and more irregular and a teaspoon is less dense.

A teaspoon of table salt such as good, old fashioned Morton Salt in the round blue box weighs 6 grams. The Nutrition Facts on the box reports this as having 2,360 mg per teaspoon (the USDA database reports this as 2,325 mg in a teaspoon).

A teaspoon of sea salt from Whole Foods, in contrast, weighs 4.8 grams. Consequently, there is less salt as well as less sodium (listed on the box as 1,680 mg per teaspoon).

Because it is your taste buds that react to the sodium in the salt crystals it will be the actual weight in milligrams of sodium that is important. Using 1/4 tsp. of table salt will taste more salty than the same measure of sea salt as a result.

I have chosen to use table salt in my recipes because this is the most consistent. Many sea salts can be even coarser and weigh less per teaspoon than those from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet