Does pink Himalayan salt have any health benefits?
Pink Himalayan salt is a type of rock salt from the Punjab region of Pakistan, near the foothills of the Himalayas.
Some people describe pink Himalayan salt as one of the purest salts available and say it boasts several health benefits.
But does this salt earn its place among the “healthier” salts? This article explores the possible benefits of this exotic salt.
What is pink Himalayan salt?
People claim that pink Himalayan salt is healthier than regular salt.
Pink Himalayan salt is chemically similar to table salt. It contains up to 98% sodium chloride.
The rest of the salt consists of trace minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These give the salt its light pink tint.
These minerals also explain why Himalayan salt tastes different from regular table salt.
How is it used?
People use this type of salt and common table salt in the same way: As part of cooking, to season meals, and to preserve food.
Blocks of pink salt sometimes become serving dishes, cooking surfaces, and cutting boards. Some people also use pink Himalayan salt in place of bath salts. It is also possible to buy lamps and candleholders made of pink salt.
Why does the body need salt?
Sodium is an essential trace mineral found in salt. The body needs this for a variety of functions.
It can support:
- contracting and relaxing muscles
- maintaining proper fluid balance and preventing dehydration
- sending nervous system impulses
- preventing low blood pressure
Recent research has suggested that eating salt can reduce the risk of infection and kill harmful bacteria.
One study on animals has also led researchers to infer that salt may have a positive effect on symptoms of depression.
Benefits and myths
There are several claims about the health benefits associated with pink salt consumption. These include:
Rich mineral content
Some sources say that pink Himalayan salt contains up to 84 different trace minerals.
As it contains up to 98% sodium chloride, this means that only around 2% is made up of these various trace minerals. Given the relatively limited quantities in which people normally consume salt, and the tiny quantity of these minerals in the salt, they are unlikely to provide any measurable or significant health benefits.
Some people believe that pink Himalayan salt is lower in sodium than regular table salt. However, both types consist of approximately 98% sodium chloride.
As pink salt often has larger crystals than table salt, it technically contains less sodium per teaspoon. It also has a saltier flavour than table salt, meaning that a person can use less salt in a serving to achieve the same taste.
However, pink salt is also available in a smaller granule size that more closely resembles regular salt. Consider this when seasoning food and measuring sodium intake.
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that over 75% of sodium intake comes from the salt already present in processed and prepared foods. Table salt does not add the bulk of sodium content to a meal.
A more natural salt
Some claim that Himalayan salt is more natural than table salt. This claim appears to have merit.
Table salt is usually heavily refined and mixed with anti-caking agents to prevent clumpings, such as sodium aluminosilicate or magnesium carbonate,
Himalayan salt is less artificial and does not usually contain additives.
An aid to hydration
Some believe that adding a pinch of pink salt to meals or drinks can help the body achieve optimal fluid balance and prevent dehydration.
It is true that sodium is necessary to maintain proper fluid balance. However, this is true of sodium from other sources as well as pink Himalayan salt.
Risks and considerations
Bear the following points in mind if using pink Himalayan salt:
Iodine is a mineral that the body needs for maintaining proper thyroid function and cell metabolism. Great sources of iodine include fish, sea vegetables, dairy, and eggs, among other foods.
Iodized salt is another common source of this trace mineral. Approximately 75% of households in the United States use iodized salt.
Although pink Himalayan salt may naturally contain some iodine, it most likely contains less iodine than iodized salt. Therefore, those who have iodine deficiency or are at risk of deficiency may need to source iodine elsewhere if using pink salt instead of table salt.
Although sodium is necessary for preserving life, it is important to monitor the intake of any type of salt. While sodium is necessary for small quantities, too much can have a negative impact on health.
Those with kidney, heart, or liver issues, or people on a sodium-restricted diet, should monitor their sodium intake and limit their use of all salt, including pink Himalayan salt.
Even people in good health should monitor sodium intake. A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that over 90 percent of children and 89 percent of adults consume more than the recommended amount of sodium.
Too much sodium
The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people eat less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily. This equates to approximately 1 teaspoon of regular table salt per day.
Those that have high blood pressure should limit sodium intake to 1500 mg per day. Speak with a dietitian to determine dietary changes that can be made to limit sodium intake.
Salt contains 40 percent sodium. When being conscious of sodium intake, it can be helpful to know how much sodium is in certain amounts of salt.
Certain quantities of salt contain the following amounts sodium
- 1/4 teaspoon salt: 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt: 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt: 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt: 2,300 mg sodium
Most people consume much more than this.
When people take in more sodium than they need, their kidneys try to remove the excess through the urine. If the kidneys cannot remove enough sodium, it begins to build up in the fluid between cells, known as the interstitial fluid.
This causes both water volume and blood volume to increase, putting additional strain on the heart and blood vessels.
A number of serious health conditions are linked to high sodium intake, including:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- liver damage
- kidney disease
Consuming too much salt might even contribute to autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis, as it overstimulates the immune system
Research from 2015 suggests a direct link between salt intake and obesity, with a 1-g-per-day increase in salt intake being linked to an increase of over 25 percent in the risk of obesity in both adults and children.
The bottom line
At present, there is no scientific evidence to show that pink Himalayan salt provides more health benefits than regular table salt.
Replacing fine-grain table salt with crystals of pink Himalayan salt may help to reduce sodium intake, but, as with any other salt, be sure to enjoy it in moderation.
There is an excellent selection of pink Himalayan salt available to purchase online, with thousands of customer reviews