Three different types of salt in measuring spoons

While the various types of salt—for example, table, kosher, and sea salt—may impart different flavors in food, they’re very similar from a health point of view, says Amy Keating, R.D., a CR nutritionist.

Sea salt comes from evaporated ocean water and retains some trace minerals, such as magnesium, but not in high enough amounts to have nutritional benefits. Table salt often has iodine added—a mineral important for preventing thyroid problems—but iodine is also found naturally in dairy products, eggs, seafood, and grains.

As for sodium levels, "most types of salt—technically sodium chloride—are roughly 40 percent sodium by weight," Keating says. (Chlorine makes up most of the rest.) The main reason nutrition labels on salt packages show varying amounts of sodium is because the serving size for salt is listed as a volume (usually ¼ teaspoon).

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Kosher salt and sea salt often have larger or coarser crystals than table salt; less of it fits on a spoon, so the sodium content appears lower. For example, Morton table salt has 590 mg per ¼ teaspoon, coarse sea salt has 580 mg, and coarse kosher salt has 480 mg.

Still, in recipes, if you replace table salt—teaspoon for teaspoon—with coarse sea salt or kosher salt, it may help you cut your sodium intake, and chances are your palate won't notice a difference. The larger crystals may also deliver a strong salty hit when sprinkled on food, so you can use less.

If you're concerned about the health risks of too much salt, find out how to pick the right packaged foods.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the August 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.