Salt: Just HOW Much is Too Much?

2. What Is Salt?

salt shaker

Salt is also called sodium chloride (NaCl). It consists of 40% sodium and 60% chloride, by weight.

Salt is by far the biggest dietary source of sodium, and the words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably.

Some varieties of salt may contain trace amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. Iodine is often added to table salt (2, 3).

The essential minerals in salt act as important electrolytes in the body. They help with fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle function.

Some amount of salt is naturally found in most foods. It’s also frequently added to foods in order to improve flavor.

Historically, salt was used to preserve food. High amounts can prevent growth of the bacteria that cause food to go bad.

Salt is harvested in two main ways: from salt mines and by evaporating sea water or other mineral-rich water.

There are actually many types of salt available. Common varieties include plain table salt, Himalayan pink salt and sea salt.

This is what salt looks like:

The different types of salt may vary in taste, texture and color. In the picture above, the salt on the left is more coarsely ground. The salt on the right is finely ground table salt.

In case you’re wondering which type is the healthiest, the truth is that they are all quite similar.

Bottom Line: Salt is mainly composed of two minerals, sodium and chloride, which have various functions in the body. It is found naturally in most foods, and is widely used to improve flavor.