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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Stiftung Warentest analyses 36 brands of salt

Fleur de Sel from Ibiza or Persian Blue from Iran are just two examples of the myriad of (often) expensive specialty salts from far countries which are advertised as far better than ordinary table salt. A survey by the independent German consumer organisation Stiftung Warentest tested 36 salt brands and came to the conclusion that price is no indication of the quality or value of a salt. The salt brands, which included 7 fleur de sel types and 8 rock salt brands were tested for smell, taste, chemical quality, packaging and descriptions.

Promises not kept

Tests showed that there were scarcely any chemical differences between the different salt brands. They had between 93 and 99.9 percent pure sodium chloride, that is normal salt. The remaining percentage consisted mostly of the relatively insoluble sulphates and carbonates of calcium and magnesium. The high sodium chloride content in the ordinary table salts speaks for the high purity of these salts, which is the result of multiple cleaning stages. “Natural” rock salts and sea salts like Fleur de Sel also contain small traces of elements like bromine and strontium. Some suppliers advertise a wealth of trace elements; Sal de Ibiza for example claims to contain 80 minerals and trace elements; chemical analyses, however, found only a small fraction of the number advertised. Himalayan Crystal Salt was another brand which did not live up to the claims on the packaging.

Many expensive exotic products fail the test

Ordinary table salt is a really inexpensive product and the quality of most brands is consistently high. 15 of the 21 ordinary table and sea salts were “good”. But with the exotic salt brands only4 of 15 got a total mark of “good”. This is even more annoying because the specialty salts can cost over a hundred times more gram for gram that a simple table salt. And then there’s the environmental balance, which is consistently poor for the exotic salts. Some of them are potentially dangerous for your health. An ayurvedic ‘magic’ salt from Pakistan for example, smells untypical and herby. A ‘blue’ salt advertised as "absolut naturrein" (absolutely naturally pure) was found to be coloured with Prussian Blue pigment, which is not allowed for colouring foods. Or there is deceptive advertising, like Sal de Ibiza being advertised as a “true fountain of youth” although to date no anti-aging effects have been proved for any salt.

To sum up:
expensive salt brands can really only be recommended as an “alternative” salt to add colour or flavour accents to your cooking.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de