Nutrition Misconceptions: Sea/Table Salt, Tea After Meals and Tortillas Vs. Pitas

Hi friends – happy last day of September!

I really enjoy putting this type of post together and taking the time to go through the research that’s out there. We are so lucky to have so much information at our fingertips (keyboards). If you missed the first post of this little series, you can get caught up here. And if you have thoughts on any of it, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

1. Sea Salt is Healthier than Table Salt


For a long time before starting my program, I was all about the sea salt. Like – it’s from the sea –  how could it not be healthier than regular old table salt which comes from… tables? (p.s. that’s me trying to be funny. I didn’t actually think that salt came from tables). It wasn’t until I started learning about sodium in class that I came to realize just how unfounded my perception was.

Since it is sold in a less processed state, sea salt does indeed contain trace minerals (source). And while I hate to downplay small quantities of nutrients since they’re awesome on any scale, the amount of calcium I get in a piece of tofu makes the amount in a pinch of sea salt seem pretty inconsequential.

On the other hand, the processing that table salt undergoes strips it of any minerals that it may have contained, but fortifies it with iodine in most cases. Iodine deficiency is a HUGE problem on an international level (source) but not one that we hear about much in North America and it’s thought that the iodization of table salt is a big reason why (source).

Finally, sea salt and table salt have almost identical sodium contents (source).

Hope you feel like you’re equipped to make the choice you’re most comfortable with. For the record, I use a bit of both!

2. Tea is a Great Post-Meal Ritual


I am very sad to report to those of you that were blissfully unaware, that tea contains phytates, polyphenols and tannins that inhibit iron absorption (source). Keep in mind that sources of heme-iron (basically all meat and fish) are far less affected by inhibitors (source). So if you’re a meat-eater, it’s probably not something you have to be worrying about. On the other hand, the absorption of plant-based sources are highly impacted by what they’re consumed with, so it’s something that I try to stay conscious of.

Before I go scaring you off of tea, please know that I still drink tons of it! But when I eat a particularly iron-rich meal, I try to avoid having a mug-full immediately after (NOT easy for me).

But PS! This study compared the effects of rooibos tea and ordinary tea on iron absorption and found that the former did not significantly impact iron absorption (presumably because of the lack of tannins). So on days when I just can’t resist a cup right after my meal, rooibos is my bestie!


3. Tortillas are Basically The Same as Pitas in a Different Form 

I’ve highlighted the striking contrast of the ingredient lists on tortillas and pitas packages to a few friends and it always seem to take them by surprise. Basically, nearly every brand of tortilla I’ve come across has an ingredient list the length of Rapunzel’s hair (that’s really long if you’re like my brothers and don’t know a single fairy tale.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.05.25 PM

Pita, on the other hand, usually has no more than 5 or 6 (things like flour, water, yeast and salt).

A quick note on long ingredient lists: despite popular belief, I do not think that they’re bad by definition. When we’re not familiar with an item, I think it’s instinctive to vilify it. But just because something has a complicated name that sounds like a chemical does not mean that it’s detrimental. For instance, if you didn’t know what ascorbic acid was and saw it on a food label, it would probably sound scary. But ascorbic acid is a form of Vitamin C. Not so scary, right?

But at the end of the day, there certainly is comfort in reading an ingredient list and knowing that you could make the finished product in your own kitchen.

So I be loving my pita.

I hope that I was able to impart some new knowledge on you without instilling fear of any foods – that is the furthest thing from my intention.

If you have any nutrition-related questions, please fire away in the comments or send me an e-mail. If I don’t know the answer, I would love to dig for it!

16 thoughts on “Nutrition Misconceptions: Sea/Table Salt, Tea After Meals and Tortillas Vs. Pitas

  1. I am usually disappointed by store bought tortillas. Homemade tortillas are very good, but I almost always cause the fire alarm to go off in the process.
    If a food is more complex, a longer ingredient list doesn’t bother me. It’s when I want to buy tater tots and the list is several lines long that I am troubled. I just want potatoes in tater tot form!
    I am glad you shared about the tea, because that is something I hadn’t pieced together.


  2. omg I loved this post! Short and sweet but so informational! You really put time in finding sources which is great :) I laughed a little bit when you said that you didn’t think salt came from tables haha. For the tea myth, although I knew about it, I never put two and two together to realise that if you mix the two you can get less iron absorbed, I’ll be keeping that in mind from now on. Thanks!


  3. Very informative! I love the explanation about sea salt vs. table salt. Also, I have heard about the tea causing blocked iron when combined with a meal.
    I really like this series! Thank you for sharing!


  4. Another great post on this subject. I will check out the tea part, thanks for including the research sources (not a big tea lover, just interested)! I would love to hear also about the Himalayan salt (usually pink) which is a big craze at the moment as well – unfortunately, there is loads of simply pink (dyed) salt in the market and people buy it thinking it’s Himalayan and also thinking it means it’s super-healthy. All in all, you’re not doing yourself (or your wallet) any favours by salting the pan of boiling water for the pasta with sea salt (or fancy Himalayan) – table salt for this purpose works just as well :)


  5. Love this post- you explained some very common myths clearly & succinctly. There is so much mis-information in the media that it’s sometimes overwhelming to try to dispel it all… but little by little, right?? :)


    • So true! Even as someone who spends her days studying nutrition, there are still moments where I realize that my perception of something is from marketing or a popular food trend. So I totally pass no judgement when I see people buying into unsound nutritional advice and info. But YES… baby steps :)


  6. Thank you for always including your sources! I love pitas as well, but don’t buy them often because I feel like toast, quinoa, and oatmeal are more versatile. I love having a mug of hot tea in the mornings as I make my oatmeal – the idea of having tea after a meal has never even occurred to me! And I’m all about the sea salt as well. For some reason it feels more natural, even though it is practically identical to table salt chemically :P


  7. Pingback: Nutrition Misconceptions: Milk and Mucus, Ditching the Salt Shaker and Cheese and Constipation | Jack's Balancing Act

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