Pink Himalayan Salt - Does It Have Any Health Benefits?
Pink Himalayan salt is chemically similar to table salt. High quality unrefined pink salt could have 88-98% sodium chloride, whereas table salt contains 98% of it.
Pink salt is said to contain up to 84 different trace minerals
- Himalayan pink salt contains lesser sodium than table salt
- Pink salt is natural, unrefined and has no additives
- Pink salt contains less iodine than table salt
Pink Himalayan salt is a type of rock salt, mined from the Punjab region of Pakistan, near the foothills of Himalayas. It is chemically similar to table salt; high quality unrefined pink salt could have 88-98 percent sodium chloride whereas table salt contains 98 percent sodium chloride. The remainder of the Himalayan salt is made up of trace minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and many others, which give the salt its light pink tint.
Our body needs sodium for essential body functions like contraction and relaxation of muscles, maintaining fluid balance, preventing dehydration, preventing low blood pressure and many more.
Pink Himalayan salt is regularly being touted for its health benefits. Let's examine how far these claims hold well.
1. Pink salt is said to contain up to 84 different trace minerals. Since 87-98 percent is sodium chloride and because salt is consumed in small amounts, the amount of trace elements obtained from pink salt is minute, unlikely to have significant health benefits.
2. It contains lesser sodium than table salt, and has a saltier taste, hence helps in lowering sodium intake.
3. Pink salt is natural, unrefined, has a lot of trace elements, and practically no additives. Table salt is refined; most of the trace elements are removed, has only added iodine, but also has additives like anti-caking agents to prevent clumping.
4. Iodine is essential for supporting thyroid function and metabolism. Iodine is found in variable amounts in seafood, dairy and eggs. Pink salt may contain variable amount of iodine, but table salt definitely has more added iodine. So, if you are iodine deficient, or have a higher risk of deficiency, then you need to be careful about using pink salt.
5. Other claims include that it is a digestive aid, balances body's pH, and helps to induce sound sleep. More research may be needed to fully establish these benefits.
6. Pink salt imparts a unique flavor to food and may be preferred for culinary purposes.
7. Himalayan salt lamps are used by many for its air purifying properties. The lamp attracts water vapor as well as the air pollutants.
8. Pink salt is used in Neti pots for nasal irrigation.
9. Some people add Himalayan salt to their bath for a rejuvenating, detoxing spa at home.
Though some of the health benefits of pink Himalayan salt seem to have merit, some are not supported fully by evidence. The main risk and consideration could be its lower iodine content. So, table salt may be partly replaced by pink salt, in moderation. The bottom-line is that salt should be used in moderation as most foods contain a lot of sodium.
(Pooja Malhotra is a city-based nutritionist)
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