Salt vs. Sodium
Are salt and sodium the same thing?
The word “sodium” and “table salt” and are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
Table salt (also known by its chemical name, sodium chloride or NaCl) is a crystal-like compound that is abundant in nature. Whereas Sodium is a mineral substance, and one of the constituent elements found in salt.
In our daily diet, we consume both salt and sodium; but it is important to know the difference between the two so that we do not make the mistake of consuming excess without even realizing it.
Difference between Salt and Sodium
Here’s the difference between salt and sodium. You will see why they are not the same.
The salt is composed of sodium and chloride, 40% corresponds to the first and 60% to the second.
What we commonly use is table salt, which is known scientifically as sodium chloride or NaCl.
It is one of the oldest condiments used by humans, in addition, it is the only edible rock.
If it were not enough, apart from serving to flavor our meals; it is also used for the preservation of some foods.
It is a crystalline mineral and is usually found in bodies of water where the sodium that is there is absorbed and mixed with the chloride.
History of Salts
For more than 8,000 years salt has been extracted from these bodies to the point that it has become one of the basic ingredients in the kitchens of almost all countries.
Salt has been considered a valuable commodity during much of the history of mankind.
When a food has a high salt content it is said to be “salty”. This mineral is found in various forms: unrefined (sea salt), refined (table salt), and iodized salt.
The latter is the one recommended by physicians since it represents one of the most effective ways of providing iodine to the body.
The salts can vary in color, there is translucent salt, white, pale yellow, pink, gray …
Sodium is a chemical element that in science is represented by the symbol Na and has the atomic number 11 in the Periodic Table of the Elements.
It is a soft white silver-colored and highly reactive. It is a member of the alkali metals and is not found naturally in nature, but rather is part of a compound from which it must then be extracted.
Do your know?Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the earth’s crust.
Many salts of sodium are highly soluble in water, besides being part of the salt that we consume; also sodium hydroxide (bleach) is used to make soap, likewise with this element is composed of sodium bicarbonate.
At standard temperature and pressure, sodium is a soft metal and a good conductor of electricity. Its use is common in the textile, paper, soap, and glass industries.
Salt and Sodium Facts
In the human body, sodium contributes to transmit the nerve impulses of each cell.
The balance of this element in the body regulates the blood pressure and the higher the level of sodium, the higher the pressure.
Therefore, people with high blood pressure should reduce and control the levels of sodium they ingest with their food.
Salt is not the only means by which you can ingest sodium, it is also found in pickles, processed cheeses, seafood, soups, tomato sauces, and other condiments.
People who are susceptible to cardiovascular disease should regulate their sodium intake, which indirectly translates to salt.
But it is not the latter that causes the problem, but the level of sodium in it.
According to the American Public Health Association, a healthy person should consume about 2,400 mg of sodium; which translates into approximately one teaspoon of daily salt.
But if the person has health problems related to the heart, then their intake should be reduced to 1,500 mg daily.
Note: in this sense, it is important to remember what we said before: salt is not the only source of sodium.
If for example, we contribute the equivalent of a teaspoon of table salt to our meals, but also we ingest other foods that contain sodium; we will be consuming an amount greater than the recommended one.
It is advisable to read the labels of the food products we buy so that we are aware of the daily proportions that we ingest not only sodium; but also of other nutrients.
Note 2: Salt does not provide calories, but sugar does.
Key differences between Salt and Sodium
- Salt is composed of sodium and chloride, while sodium is an element that is often extracted from among others.
- Salt is used as a condiment and to preserve some food, while sodium is used to create soaps, in the textile industry, in the manufacture of glass.
- It is sodium and not salt that can be found naturally in some foods (in low amounts).
- In our food, salt has the function of giving flavor; while sodium is necessary in our diet, because it contributes to certain functions of the body.