Historically, salt has had a huge impact on society. It’s a treasured natural resource, and a necessary component of a healthy diet. Although now we take it for granted as a boring “spice” that sits on the kitchen table, wars have been waged over access to salt flats. More recently, pink Himalayan salt has gained popularity in home kitchens and professional eateries alike.
What is Pink Himalayan Salt?
Pink Himalayan salt originated over 250 million years ago in the Himalayan mountains and was used as a preservative for keeping fish and meat fresh. Now, this type of salt is mined from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in Pakistan.
The unrefined properties of this type of salt have helped this mineral gain a quasi-cult following, as more people become conscientious of what they’re putting on and into their bodies. Along with the salt’s beautiful pink hue, there’s actually quite a few differences between regular white table salt and pink Himalayan salt—and it’s worth it to pick up a bottle of the stuff next time you’re at the grocery store. Among its other benefits, pink Himalayan salt tastes different than regular table salt; it’s often described as more potent, and more, well, “salty.”
Himalayan salt is pink because it’s unbleached, unlike most table salt. The mines in which Himalayan salt is collected contain high amounts of iron oxide—the same chemical compound that gives rust its color. When the iron oxide reacts with sodium chloride, it creates a pink color.
Himalayan Salt versus Table Salt
One of the main differences of regular table salt versus Himalayan salt is the way each is processed. Table salt is heavily refined and processed, making it free of impurities and taking away any minerals except sodium chloride and added iodine, which is a mineral that can be helpful to maintain thyroid health. Himalayan salt, on the other hand, is one of the most natural salts you can find and contains over 84 trace minerals. Some of the trace minerals found in pink Himalayan salt can possibly help your body’s pH levels, reduce the risk of dehydration, support brain, muscle, and nerve function, among many other potential benefits.
On top of that, many conventional table salt options add anti-clumping chemicals into the mix. Commercial table salt is typically 97.5 percent to 99.9 percent sodium chloride, while a high-quality unrefined salt like Himalayan Sea salt is only about 87 percent sodium chloride.
Himalayan Salt Nutrition and Health Benefits
No matter what salt you choose to consume, each type is mainly comprised of sodium chloride, including pink Himalayan salt. However, Himalayan salt contains about 84 other trace minerals because it doesn’t go through a refining process like regular table salt.
Some of these minerals include small amounts of:
In a study done comparing Himalayan salt and regular table salt, researchers found there is a slight difference of mineral content between the two, with one gram of each salt containing:
Pink Himalayan Salt
- Calcium: 1.6 mg
- Potassium: 2.8 mg
- Magnesium: 1.06 mg
- Iron: 0.0369 mg
- Sodium: 368 mg
Regular Table Salt
- Calcium: 0.4 mg
- Potassium: 0.9 mg
- Magnesium: 0.0139 mg
- Iron: 0.0101 mg
- Sodium: 381 mg
Most regular table salt is very highly processed. That heavy processing destroys many of the salt’s natural health benefits. In fact, with normal table salt you’re left with one mineral—sodium—and added iodine. Iodine was originally added to salt to prevent disabilities and illnesses caused by iodine deficiencies, such as goiters.
Pink Himalayan salt’s higher mineral content can lead to several health benefits, including:
1. Balancing pH Levels
Pink salt can help balance the body’s pH levels because of its high electrolyte count. By adding a touch of Himalayan salt to water or fruit juice, you promote the absorption of electrolytes and improve the body’s hydration levels. This can be incredibly helpful if spending a lot of time in the summer heat, or when exercising vigorously.
2. Improving sleep
Studies show that those with certain mineral deficiencies can have disrupted sleep patterns. According to Dr. Michael V. Vitiello, low levels of sodium in the blood cause blood volume to decrease, and the sympathetic nervous system becomes more active in order to compensate. That causes people to wake up more often and have difficulty going back to sleep.
3. Preventing hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is a condition caused by low sodium levels. In order to avoid developing this condition, keeping adequate sodium levels can help prevent health risks associated with dangerously low sodium levels, like confusion, lethargy, mood swings, seizures, coma, and even death.
4. Treating skins conditions
In addition to adding Himalayan salt into your diet, you can also add it into your bath to effectively treat some skin conditions! According to the National Eczema Association, adding one cup of pink salt into your bath water can help reduce painful symptoms of a severe flare of eczema. The additional mineral content within Himalayan salt can also help reduce skin inflammation and heighten the health benefits compared to regular table salt.
Cooking Considerations and Potential Risks
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest less than 2,300 mg per day, which is about one teaspoon of regular table salt. Even though Himalayan salt contains less sodium than table salt, its recommended that you follow the same guidelines due to the insignificant difference in sodium levels.
There is also the option of cooking with a Himalayan salt block, which is used to sear thin cuts of meats, fish, veggies, and seafood at high temperatures. You can also chill the salt block to serve with cold foods like sushi, cheeses, desserts, fruits, and vegetables. This new way of cooking will naturally salt your food without the additional preservatives, along with offering a beautiful and interesting presentation.
Just like any kind of salt, pink Himalayan salt has the same potential side effects if it’s consumed in excessive amounts. Including too much salt into your diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke, along with an increased risk of:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart disease
The bottom line
If your salt consumption is healthy and done in moderation, without any present medical conditions, these potential risks may not be applicable to you. Further research is needed on the health benefits concerning Pink Himalayan Salt. However, including this salt in your diet will provide additional minerals, along with providing a new way of cooking food and a fun and different presentation to your meals!