Himalayan Pink Salt: Healthy or Hype?
Pink Himalayan salt is often said to be the most beneficial as well as the cleanest salt available on this planet today. Himalayan pink salt is a form of salt that is found primarily in Pakistan. It’s marketed as a healthier substitute for table salt, and as a trendy alternative to sea salt. In fact, many people tout its many supposed health benefits, which include supposedly lower sodium levels and a greater variety of important minerals when compared to conventional table salt.
The problem is, there’s little evidence that these health claims have any merit. In truth, Himalayan pink salt may have somewhat higher amounts of certain important nutrients such as magnesium. Nutritionally, though, it’s extremely similar to regular salt.
Himalayan pink salt is mined in the Salt Range Mountains in the remote Punjab region of Pakistan, south of Islamabad. It’s a form of rock salt that gets its pinkish color from impurities contained within the salt. Himalayan pink salt has been mined for hundreds of years, since at least the 1200s, and historically has been used for food preparation and food preservation.
The trace minerals in Himalayan pink salt give the salt its pink tinge, which can range from a subtle pink color to a much more varied, vibrant pink. Finely ground pink salt appears lighter in its pinkish color than the coarse version of it you’d put in a salt grinder.
At times, Himalayan pink salt has been marketed as Jurassic Sea Salt, but it was formed much earlier than the Jurassic period. Plus, it was formed in the mountains, not in the sea.
Despite many unsupported medical claims about Himalayan pink salt, it’s chemically similar to regular table salt, which is sodium chloride.
The United States Department of Agriculture, which keeps detailed nutritional analyses on foods sold in the United States, says that regular table salt has 581 mg of sodium per quarter-teaspoon. In comparison, Himalayan pink salt has 420 mg of sodium per quarter-teaspoon, but that’s because it’s less dense than regular table salt owing to its generally coarser grind. When compared by weight, the two are equivalent in sodium content.
Himalayan pink salt does contain some extra minerals that regular table salt does not have. For example, Himalayan pink salt contains trace amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium; all minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
Himalayan pink salt does not contain enough calcium, potassium, and magnesium in quantities that are sufficient to make any kind of difference in your health.
In fact, you’ll see when you look at nutritional labels for various brands of Himalayan pink salt, that most state on the Nutrition Facts panel that a serving of the salt contains 0 percent of the daily value for those nutrients.
This is a little misleading because in reality, the salt does contain a tiny bit of all three: potassium, calcium, and magnesium. However, one serving of the salt (a quarter-teaspoon or so) contains less than 1 percent of any one mineral. So, the label must state that the content is zero.
One ounce of Himalayan pink salt (around 4.6 teaspoons of salt) does contain around 6 percent of the recommended daily iron intake. However, that’s an unhealthy amount of salt to eat just to get a little bit of iron. Some manufacturers claim Himalayan pink salt has more than 80 trace minerals, but there’s little independent research to back that up.
HOW TO USE PINK SALT
Since Himalayan pink salt is nutritionally nearly the same as table salt, you should use it in cooking and other food preparation just the same as you would use table salt.
It’s possible to find the salt finely ground, which you can use in any of your salt shakers. However, many people prefer the coarser grind. Coarser salt can be used as part of a rub for meat, to sprinkle over vegetables as they are being sautéed, or in a decorative salt grinder on the dining room table.
As always, you should watch your consumption of salt, since too much sodium may contribute to high blood pressure, this, in turn, may be a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health concerns.
There’s plenty of hype surrounding the supposed extraordinary health benefits of different types of salt, but little of that hype is backed up by medical science. This is not to say Himalayan pink salt doesn’t have any benefits—it’s a visually appealing pink color, and some people say it adds a bolder, more interesting taste to foods than regular table salt because it does feature those trace minerals. Your best bet is to use Himalayan pink salt as an unusual addition to your dishes and your salt shaker, and plan to get your essential nutrients in other ways.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA Branded Food Products Database.