By the way, doctor: Are gourmet salts better for you?
Q. Do you know anything about the various fancy salts? I've heard that they deliver salty flavor but have a smaller dose of harmful sodium.
A. All of the gourmet salts I have seen have virtually the same amount of sodium as regular table salt, but a far greater price tag. I recently participated in a blind taste testing and couldn't detect much difference. But some say there is, and I wouldn't want to dispute that.
Regular table salt does have additives that some people believe give it an off taste. Calcium silicate is often used to keep it from clumping up. Potassium iodide is added to "iodize" salt, and dextrose (sugar) helps stabilize the potassium iodide and hide its bitter aftertaste. Iodizing salt has been a public health strategy for decades. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid problems and, in developing fetuses and young children, mental retardation. It's now rare in this country, partly because of iodized salt, but is still a problem in the developing countries.