Iodized vs. Non-Iodized Salt: What’s Really the Difference? - GoodRx (2024)

Key takeaways:

  • Iodized salt is a refined table salt that contains added iodine to help prevent iodine deficiency and thyroid problems.

  • Iodized and non-iodized salt contain about the same amount of sodium, so one is not healthier than the other.

  • Since these commonly used salts have about the same amount of sodium, you can choose what works best for you based on certain factors.


Reviewed by Alexandra Schwarz, MD

Salt is one of the most common seasonings. The salt that we use for cooking is made up of two minerals: sodium and chloride. In the right amounts, these minerals are essential to a balanced diet. In excess, sodium is linked to health problems, like high blood pressure.

But with so many different types of salt to choose from — like iodized salt and non-iodized salt varieties — how do you know which one is best for your health?

What is iodized salt?

Iodized salt is a table salt (what you see in most salt shakers) with the mineral iodine added to it. Iodine is an important nutrient that helps your body make thyroid hormones. These hormones help with metabolism and growth in unborn babies and young children.

Why is iodine added to salt?

Iodine is added to salt to help prevent iodine deficiency, which can lead to:

Between 1990 and 2014, the amount of people consuming iodized salt increased from 20% to 75%. And, as a result, iodine deficiency significantly decreased. But it still affects almost 1.9 billion people around the world.

What is non-iodized salt and what are some examples?

Because it does not have added iodine, non-iodized salt does not contain enough of the mineral to meet nutritional needs. Most gourmet cooking salts are not iodized. Some examples include:

  • Sea salt

  • Kosher salt

  • Black salt

  • Himalayan or pink salt

  • Flaky salt

  • Gray or smoky salt

  • Fleur de sel

Differences between iodized and non-iodized salt

The main difference between iodized and non-iodized salt is the addition of iodine. Otherwise, there are variations that have to do with their taste, texture, and level of processing.

The chart below compares iodized table salt with one popular type of non-iodized salt: sea salt.

Iodized table salt Non-iodized sea salt
Where does it come from? Mined from underground salt deposits Made from evaporating ocean water
Does it contain added iodine? Yes No
Does it contain trace minerals? No, they are removed during processing. Yes, but in very small amounts.
How big are the salt granules? Small grains Small grains or larger crystals that are coarse and crunchy
What does it taste like? It may be considered
bitter by some people.
Some people consider it to be more flavorful than iodized salt.

Is iodized salt better than non-iodized salt?

Unless you have an iodine deficiency, iodized salt wouldn’t be considered healthier for you than non-iodized salt. That is because they have about the same sodium content. Non-iodized salts may have slightly less sodium due to the larger size of their crystals. Meaning, less of these salt grains fit into 1 teaspoon compared to those of iodized salt.

Within limits, both types of salt are OK to eat. After all, a little bit of sodium helps regulate blood pressure and is necessary for nerves and muscles to function properly. But either type of salt can be unhealthy if eaten in excess. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day.

Iodized salt vs. kosher salt, sea salt, and Himalayan salt

As mentioned, there isn’t a health-related reason to pick iodized salt over non-iodized varieties — like kosher salt, sea salt, or Himalayan salt — for most people.

That said, compared to iodized salt, kosher salt is less refined. But kosher salt may not have as many trace minerals as sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Sea salt and Himalayan salt tend to be perceived as healthier than iodized salt. This is because they are marketed as unprocessed and rich in minerals like:

  • Iron

  • Calcium

  • Potassium

  • Magnesium

  • Zinc

But these nutrients are present in such small quantities that they don’t provide significant health benefits. From a cooking perspective, though, non-iodized salts tend to be preferred for their flavor and texture.

Who should eat iodized salt?

While most people in the U.S. get enough iodine by eating a variety of foods, certain people may benefit from eating iodized salt, including:

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Compared to the 150 micrograms (mcg) of daily iodine that most adults need, pregnant people should get 220 mcg of iodine a day. And people who are breastfeeding should get 290 mcg a day. Iodized salt provides 45 mcg of iodineper gram (about ⅛ to ¼ tsp) of salt.

  • People who follow a vegan diet or do not eat animal products for any reason: People who do not consume animal products — including eggs, dairy, and seafood — could benefit from the additional iodine in iodized salt.

  • People who eat more soy or cruciferous vegetables: Soy and cruciferous vegetables — like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage — may affect how the body uses iodine.

  • People who live in mountainous areas: Food grown in mountainous areas and other regions that do not have iodine-rich soil naturally have less of the mineral.

If you’re not sure whether or not you are meeting your iodine needs, talk with a healthcare provider or a dietitian. They can help you decide whether iodized salt is right for you.

Which type of salt is best for high blood pressure?

Almost all commonly used salts are high in sodium, which is a nutrient of concern for people with high blood pressure. The amount of salt you eat matters more than the type you choose. If you have high blood pressure, it’s best to limit your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg a day.

Salt substitutes for people with high blood pressure

Some evidence suggests that salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride can help raise potassium levels and lower blood pressure.

While consuming these salt substitutes is considered safe for healthy people without kidney issues, there is a risk of hyperkalemia. This is when potassium levels become too high, which can be dangerous and affect how your heart functions. So be sure to talk with a healthcare provider first to find out whether this is a safe option for you.

The bottom line

Because iodized salt and non-iodized salt have similar amounts of sodium, one isn’t healthier than the other. For most people, the difference ultimately comes down to individual preferences around flavor and texture. If you have questions about your iodine intake, talk with a healthcare provider. Otherwise, no matter which type of salt you prefer, eating it within recommended limits is most important.


American Heart Association. (2018). Sea salt vs. table salt.

American Heart Association. (2021). Why should I limit sodium?

View All References (10)


Blankenship, J. L., et al. (2018). Effect of iodized salt on organoleptic properties of processed foods: A systematic review. Journal of Food Science and Technology.

Cassetty, S. (2019). Is sea salt healthier than regular salt? TODAY.

Fayet-Moore, F., et al. (2020). An analysis of the mineral composition of pink salt available in Australia. Foods.

Greer, R. C., et al. (2019). Potassium-enriched salt substitutes as a means to lower blood pressure. Hypertension.

National Institutes of Health. (2022). Iodine.

NIH News in Health. (n.d.). The salty stuff.

Santos, J. A. R., et al. (2019). Iodine fortification of foods and condiments, other than salt, for preventing iodine deficiency disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Iodized salt.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

Universal Salt Iodization Coverage Survey Team. (2017). Household coverage with adequately iodized salt varies greatly between countries and by residence type and socioeconomic status within countries: Results from 10 national coverage surveys. The Journal of Nutrition.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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Iodized vs. Non-Iodized Salt: What’s Really the Difference? - GoodRx (2024)
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