Photo by Faran Raufi on Unsplash
Identifying and understanding the different types of Salts in the German Supermarket
Today, I am writing about Salt- an essential household item everyone buys. Salt (Salz in German) is an ingredient used in every kitchen. It adds taste to our food, helps regulate blood pressure, maintains fluid balance, and plays a role in our body’s metabolism. The chemical component of common salt is sodium chloride. It is an essential mineral needed by our body. Health and nutrition experts recommend an intake of 6 grams per day. That’s about the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt.
Like many other products, salt in the German Supermarket also comes in so many varieties that we are often confused about which product to buy and what is better for our health. Let us look at each of the types and understand them:
Alpensalz is a rock salt. It is extracted from the deepest layers of rock in the Alps. It is the European variant of Himalayan rock salt. Ages ago, the Alps were immersed under the sea. Slowly the water receded, leaving behind deposits of rock salt. Today, clear mountain water, as it flows down, slowly dissolves the salt from the rock, forming pure brine. Alpen Salz (the salt from the Alps) is extracted from this brine. It can also be mined from rocks. This salt is just sodium chloride and has no added iodine, fluoride, etc.
- Alpenjodsalz :
Alpenjodsalz is also rock salt but with additional iodine. Jod means Iodine. In English, this salt is called iodized salt.
Why is iodine important?
Iodine is a building block for thyroid hormones and cannot be produced by the body itself. Iodine plays a vital role in many metabolic processes in our body and the normal growth and development of the brain. Iodine can also improve concentration, reduce tiredness, fight depressive moods, and improve our immune system.
Who should particularly take iodized salt?
Children, pregnant/breastfeeding women, vegans, and vegetarians should take iodized salt because of their body needs and because their diet sometimes doesn’t supply the iodine needed for their bodies.
- Alpensalz mit Jod und Flourid:
This is also rock salt but with added iodine and fluoride. I have already explained the benefits of adding iodine. Here I will explain the use of Flouride. Fluorides, like iodine, cannot be produced by our body and must be ingested with food. Drinking water in most regions of Germany has a very low fluoride content. Therefore, we can’t rely entirely on water to fulfil our body’s fluoride needs.
Why are fluorides important?
Fluorides play an important role in preventing tooth decay. Caries form when we don’t clean our teeth properly, especially after eating sticky or sweet foods. These get converted to acids and cause tooth decay. Fluorides act against these acids and fight tooth decay. You might have noticed toothpaste labels mentioning that they have added fluorides. They are added for the same reason mentioned above.
Who should particularly consume fluorides?
Pregnant women/breastfeeding women, infants, children, and people with an increased risk of tooth decay should consider consuming salt with added fluorides.
- Alpensalz mit Folsäure:
This is rock salt with added folic acid. Folsäure means folic acid. Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin. Although folic acid occurs as folate mainly in salads, vegetables, legumes, beans, spinach, peas, lentils, etc., the problem is that it is very sensitive to storage, light, and heat. Therefore, the supply of folic acid through these foods is usually not sufficient. In salts, this folate is stabilized to storage, light, and heat; hence, the folates are not lost in the storing and cooking process.
Why is folic acid important?
It is responsible for cell division and the formation of red and white blood cells. It helps fight against fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, etc. You might have noticed that doctors often recommend folic acid to pregnant women. That is because folic acid contributes to the healthy development of mother and child.
- Himalaya Salz:
This is rock salt that comes from the Himalayan mountains. This salt contains minerals and trace elements such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, manganese, and iron. The reddish color is due to the presence of iron or iron oxide. It is mined in the lowlands on the edge of the Himalayas.
This is sea salt. It is obtained from salt water in salt marshes and salt lakes by evaporation. Since salt combines with water and forms clumps, anti-caking agents are sometimes added to avoid clumping. Anti-caking agents are called ‘Rieselhilfe‘ in German. So if you see on the salt pack: Meersalz ohne Rieselhilfe, it means that it doesn’t have caking agents. In addition to sodium chloride, sea salt also contains potassium, magnesium, etc.
- Meersalz mit Jod
This is sea salt with iodine. The benefits of iodine are mentioned above.
This is evaporated or saline salt. It is a type of rock salt obtained from salt lakes. It is dissolved with the help of water and then boiled in salt pans. The water evaporates and leaves behind what is known as table salt. It has the purest form of salt and is considered great for cooking. Usually, this salt contains caking agents, which are added to avoid clumping.
This is salt combined with different spices and herbs, which can be used for specific dishes. These spices and herbs are combined with either rock salt or sea salt. You can check the ingredient list and find out. Some of these are shown in the pictures below:
- Sprühsalz: This is brine that can be sprayed. You can use it to spray, e.g., when baking bread, spray it on top to give it a salty crust, or use it on your salads to ensure even mixing, etc.
- In addition, some salt packs contain marketing jargon or informational text, which is explained below:
- Blutdrucksalz: Translates to blood pressure salt. In this type of salt, sodium chloride is substituted with salty-tasting compounds of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- Kristallsalz means crystal salt. Feinsalz means finely ground salt. Grob means coarse grains.
- Ursalz : This is untreated salt from the salt mines.
- In addition, there are many other salts like Schwarzsalz (Indian Kala Namak), Hawaiisalz (Salt from Hawaii), Dead sea salt, etc.
Before I finish my article, there is one question that I would like to discuss, and that is:
Which salt is better- rock salt or sea salt?
Studies have found both contain 99% sodium chloride and that there isn’t much difference between them in terms of nutrition. After all, even rock salt is, in a way, sea salt. The taste and appearance may vary, but the benefits of one over the other are not scientifically proven yet. Consuming salt in moderation (recommended 6gms per day) and based on your body’s requirements (with iodine/fluoride etc.) can help maintain fluid balance and help with the body’s normal functioning.
This article on salt reminded me of our memorable visit to the salt mines in Hallstatt, Austria. You can check out my article about it here.
To all my readers in Germany: You can also visit the salt mines in Bad Reichenhall, Germany. Check out this link and visit it to learn how rock salt from the famous brand Bad Reichenhall is made.
To understand other products in German supermarkets, click here.
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