Your salt could be contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic, says study

Any chef (or mother) can attest that there’s no ingredient more valuable than salt when it comes to the kitchen. The beloved ionic compound inherits properties that release food molecules into the air, endowing food the element of aroma and providing an essential component of taste that makes the dining experience so enjoyable. Seasoning doesn’t get any simpler than that, right?

However, a new study indicates it may be not be so crystal clear (no pun intended).

Millions of people worldwide have converted from table salt to sea salt in recent years. Sea salt, which is acquired by evaporating seawater, is known to contain beneficial trace minerals and elements that are absent from table salt. Since table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits, it is heavily processed to eliminate these essential nutrients. Besides added iodine to help maintain a healthy thyroid, the refining process takes out any excess elements for a silkier texture.

19 PHOTOS
World's healthiest vegetables
See Gallery
World's healthiest vegetables

18. Romaine lettuce

Getty

17. Artichokes

Getty

16. Cauliflower

Getty

15. Green pepper

Getty

14. Tomato

Getty

13. Corn on the cob

Getty

12. Okra

Getty

11. Carrot

Getty

10. Green peas

Getty

9. Cabbage (raw)

Getty

8. Brussel sprouts

Getty

7. Winter squash (baked)

Getty

6. Broccoli

Getty

5. Mixed vegetables

Getty

4. Kale

Getty

3. Spinach

Getty

2. Potato, baked

Getty

1. Sweet potato

Getty

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

As such, nutritionists have promoted the magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc found in sea salt, all of which help keep the body’s electrolytes in balance. Moreover, the coarse, crystallized aspect of sea salt generally carries more flavor than powdered table salt. After the controversial health issue of salt that has arisen in recent years, sea salt has since become the more desirable option for health enthusiasts and professional chefs throughout the globe.

But new research points to another ingredient in sea salt that we bet you won’t find on the label: microplastics. The study, published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports earlier this year, studied 17 commercial salt brands from eight different countries (including the U.S. and UK) to identify any plastic particles.

By dissolving the salt in water and filtering it through a filter membrane, they were able to see what was left over. The results? They found microplastic in all but one brand.

While you may not have significant problems digesting these extremely tiny pieces of plastic, it’s not exactly something we want to find on our dinner plates. The average American likely ingests over 660 plastic pieces per year just from the salt they consume, the study says. However, the majority of Americans eat much more than the recommended intake of salt to begin with—so one can imagine their daily dose of plastic is pretty high. Scientists fear that chemicals in plastics could cause poisoning, infertility, and genetic disruption in humans if ingested in large quantities.

12 PHOTOS
10+ breakfast essentials for your kitchen
See Gallery
10+ breakfast essentials for your kitchen
BELLA Rotating Waffle Maker
"The build feels sturdy, the ceramic material is amazing, and the fact that this waffle iron flips is amazing!" -Lily the Wandering Gypsy
BUY IT
Nostalgia Electrics Breakfast Sandwich Maker
The "warming tray is convenient and it makes perfectly round eggs... This would make perfect hamburgers!" -Sweet & Savory
BUY IT
Kitchen Gizmo All-in-One Avocado Slicer
"Every avocado fan needs this slicer! It does everything from slicing open an avocado to mashing up the flesh for guacamole. Every different element made preparing an avocado easier than I have ever experienced." -Cupcake Diaries
BUY IT
Crux 7 Speed Blender
"The Crux Blender is light but powerful. I don't like to have things out on my counter so I love that the Crux Blender is light enough for me to move to the cupboard, but still powerful enough to make our morning smoothies. It's also beautifully designed so that if we did leave it out, I wouldn't mind so much." -Namely Marly
BUY IT
BELLA Ceramic Cooper Titanium Skillet
"It’s lightweight and made with high-quality material. My favorite features about this are that it’s nonstick and has a temperature control setting that makes for incredibly accurate electric cooking." -Ashton Keefe
BUY IT
BELLA Ceramic Copper Titanium Griddle
"I never knew I needed an electric griddle until I got this one! It's such a great size, I can make large batches of pancakes (or whatever I'm making) all at once. It's a mega time saver." -Displaced Housewife
BUY IT
Tomorrow's Kitchen Slice & Catch
The Slice & Catch "catches the fruits and vegetables and eliminates the need for a knife and cutting board." -Lemons & Basil
BUY IT
Nostalgia Electrics Electric Slider Maker
You can also use this slider maker "for other things besides just burgers such as fish patties, grilling buns, mini grilled cheese and more!"  -Public Lives, Secret Recipes
BUY IT
Lagostina Nera Nonstick Skillet with Lid
"What I love about this skillet is its versatility. It’s nonstick (but BPA free), oven-safe, and its higher sides make it great for sautéing and for simmering dishes with more liquid. I’ll use it for everything from braised short ribs to frittatas." -Domesticate Me
BUY IT
Kitchen Gizmo Citrus Slicer
This is "an innovative product that makes citrus cutting mess-free and is incentivizing to eat more oranges and grapefruit." -Nutrition by Mia
BUY IT
Chantal Mia Electric Kettle
Wake up with this electric kettle that "makes it so easy to heat up water for pour over coffee." -Fix Feast Flair
BUY IT
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

While this isn’t good news, it shouldn’t come as such a shock to environmentalists; since their mass production in the 1950s, global plastic production has been increasing, which exceeded 322 million tons in 2015. Since then, plastic waste from shopping bags, cellophane packaging, and microbeads (found in face scrubs and other beauty products) has been shown to steadily—but surely—be making our oceans a churning soup of plastic. Sea salt retains that plastic, since it’s made from evaporated sea water. Microplastic has since been discovered in the stomachs of clams, fish, and other marine life, as well.

Luckily, researchers say that the current levels of microplastics are so low that it shouldn’t drastically affect a human’s health; the expected consumption level via salt is about 37 plastic particles per year. However, further measures are being taken to better understand the risks.

If anything, the lesson to learn from this global dilemma is a substantial improvement in plastic disposal and recycling. The increasing trend of plastic use and disposal might lead to the gradual accumulation of microplastics in oceans and lakes, and therefore in products such as sea salt.

While the study did not disclose specific brands, the only product that did not contain plastic particles originated from France.

If you ask us, it may be wise to just stick with table salt for now.

[Sources: Forbes, The Guardian]

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Best Bites by AOL newsletter to get the most delicious recipes and hottest food trends delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.