World-first study proves it is time to “Rethink Pink”

Posted by Media Release Agency on 21st October 2020

A world-first study led by independent research company, Nutrition Research Australia (NRAUS), has shown that pink salts embody low levels of essential nutrients and a wide variation of harmful heavy metals.

Results garnered from testing 31 samples of pink salts available for purchase in Australia revealed they are unpredictable and inconsistent in nature.

Wide variations in the levels of nutrients found in pink salt were significant, with iron levels ranging between 0 and 17mg/100g and in the case of calcium levels ranged between 53mg and 574mg/100g.

Pink salt samples with higher concentrations of essential nutrients also comprised higher levels of heavy metals.

More alarmingly, some pink salt samples contained aluminum (up to 19mg/100g) and lead (up to 0.26mg/100g, with one sample exceeding national contaminant levels) – both heavy metals that are harmful if consumed long-term or in excess.

Interestingly, all of the Australian-sourced pink salt samples showed lower levels in both essential nutrients and non-nutritive minerals, including heavy metals.

While the research shows pink salt contains more nutrients than white table salt, consumption needs to exceed the recommended sodium limit by over 500% before gaining any meaningful contribution to the diet.

The top three nutrients found in pink salt (excluding sodium) were magnesium, calcium and potassium, but one teaspoon only contributed between 1% and 5% of daily needs, and 100% of the maximum sodium limits (5g of salt).

The top three non-nutritive minerals in pink salt were sulphur (100% of samples / at least five times more than white); aluminum (93% of samples / not present in white); and silicon (83% of samples / not present in white).

Results have NRAUS calling on Australians to “Rethink Pink”, as while pink salt contains more minerals than white table salt, the amounts are not meaningful and limiting salt intake from all sources will help Australians to align with recommendations from the World Health Organization.

NRAUS funded the research independently after CEO, Dr Flavia Fayet-Moore identified zero proof was available on pink salt’s nutrient composition and the research group felt Australians need more evidence to make an informed choice.

“Our study shows that pink salt’s reputation for being ‘healthier’ has now been debunked, with the nutrient level too low and variable for it to be a consistent source of nutrients. People would need to consume six teaspoons of pink salt for those nutrients to make a meaningful contribution to their diet, which far exceeds dietary guidelines and is detrimental to health.

“While pink salt may look prettier on the dining room table, there are many healthy ways to enhance flavour and add colour to your meal, such as using herbs and spices like paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron and even pink peppercorns.”

 Nutrition scientist and dietitian, Dr Joanna McMillan co-authored the manuscript with NRAUS scientists and also encourages Australians to consider alternatives when looking for flavour.

“There are healthier substitutes for salt, that add flavour to your diet without the health risk. It is actually possible to retrain your tastebuds, so we challenge Australian households to try new things and have fun adding flavour to meals with natural flavor enhancers like umami foods, seaweed or by using fresh herbs and spices.”

Insights gained from the study indicated that the unpredictable nature of pink salts and its mineral composition could not even be attributed to factors like origin or intensity of the pink colour.

The 31 samples tested during NRAUS’ study were products readily available in Australian supermarkets and independent retailers, and sourced from around the world.

The full results from the study can be viewed