Every year, new food trends emerge, and fresh kitchen ingredients grab our interest. Adding different oils to salts, many individuals modify their diets and habits to be as healthy as possible and eliminate anything harmful to their health. Can we, however, continue to trust the new introductions? One example of the ongoing disagreement over the actual health benefits of these foods is pink salt, sometimes known as ‘Himalayan salt.’ A pinch of salt may elevate or spoil a dish. Without this vital component, our food would be bland and tasteless.
Himalayan Pink Salt has become more popular in recent years. It has exceptional colour. Also, it is readily available in grocery and speciality food stores. With time, we’ve seen many kitchen shelves adorned with bottles filled with lovely pink crystals, but does this provide us with what we’re seeking? Let’s have a look.
What is Himalayan Pink Salt?
Himalayan Pink Salt is a pink-coloured salt collected from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan’s remote Punjab province, south of Islamabad, near the Himalayas. The Khewra Salt Mine is one of the world’s largest and oldest salt mines. The pinkish-coloured rock salt obtains its colour from the impurities in the salt. Since the 1200s, Himalayan Pink Salt has been mined and traditionally used for culinary preparation and preservation.
The salt contains up to 98 per cent sodium chloride, making it chemically identical to table salt. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also abundant in Pink Salt. While many people use Himalayan salt instead of table salt, some researchers have discovered that it lacks iodine, one of the most crucial ingredients in any salt.
The Purpose of Salt in Our Body
The chemical name for salt is sodium chloride (NaCl). It has a sodium content of 40% and a chloride content of 60% by weight.
Sodium is essential for good health since it aids in:
- Muscles contraction,
- Maintaining the body’s fluid equilibrium, cell structure, and shape
- Sending nerve impulses between nerves as well as between nerves and muscles
- Preventing low blood pressure by working on the kidneys, adrenal glands, and specific receptors on the tongue, throat, and brain.
Chloride is significant because of the following reasons:
- First, it helps in the equilibrium of fluid inside and outside cells.
- Second, it helps in the maintenance of normal blood volume.
- Third, it aids in keeping the blood pressure in check.
- Fourth, it helps maintain the pH of the body’s fluids.
According to recent studies, salt consumption can minimise the risk of infection and act as an antimicrobial defence.
As per USDA, the nutritional composition of 100 grams of Himalayan Pink Salt is:
- Energy: 0 kcal
- Total lipid(fat): 0g
- Carbohydrate: 0g
- Sodium (Na): 3800 mg
Himalayan Pink Salt: Uses
We can commonly use Himalayan Pink Salt as a flavouring, an ingredient, or even a cooking tool. The common uses are:
We can season meat with Himalayan Salt because it sticks nicely to the surface and spreads evenly. Regular cooking can be used for everyday cooking or as a finishing salt. It offers a burst of saltiness to the palate. Cooking can also the sweet and savoury, and you can use a pinch of it in desserts. In addition, It can be put in sauces and marinades or added to food at the dinner table.
Consideration for Cooking: When measuring salt by volume, it’s vital to consider how finely the salt is ground. To equal the saltiness of finely ground salt, you might need to add more coarse salt. This change is because finely ground salt is closer to coarse salt, resulting in more salt in a given volume.
For example, one teaspoon of finely powdered salt may have roughly 2,300 mg of sodium, and one teaspoon of coarse salt may contain less than 2,000 mg of sodium, depending on crystal size.
Several meals can be prepared and served with Himalayan Salt blocks. They’re great for baking or grilling meats, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, fresh fruit, and vegetables because they conduct heat efficiently and at high temperatures. Cookies, scones, pizzas, and other baked items are all made using them. It can be chilled to serve cold dishes and desserts, making them versatile. Sushi, cheeses, meat, fruit, custard, ice cream, and sorbet, for example, can all be served with cooled salt blocks. The slabs will impart an enhanced salt taste and mineral content. Since it is naturally antimicrobial, cleaning up requires a quick scrub or rinse.
Soaking the body in a Himalayan brine bath can do wonders to rejuvenate the skin. The skin soaks up all the minerals that provide different benefits through dermal absorption. For instance, chromium fights acne, zinc prevents scarring, and sulphur keeps the skin smooth. In addition, the magnesium in Himalayan Salt can aid in relieving muscle and soft tissue cramps. Mix it with slightly warm water to feel refreshed and energised.
Himalayan Salt Lamps
The magnificent Himalayan Salt lamps bring beauty to one’s home and serve as (much-needed) air purifiers. These lamps consist of large salt blocks with an inner light source that heats the salt. These lights draw moisture from the air, and the water evaporates quickly due to the surface’s warmth. Evaporation produces negative ions, which react with and neutralise pollen, dust, dirt, pollutants, and allergens that have a positive charge.
Himalayan Pink Salt is chemically similar to table salt. Hence, the recommended amount for consumption per day will be the same. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends consuming no more than 5 grams (2 grams of sodium) of salt per person per day.
Health Benefits of Himalayan Pink Salt
Improve Respiratory Diseases
Salt therapy is a process that utilises pure Himalayan salt to treat respiratory diseases. In some circumstances, people use a salt inhaler, while in others, the individual has to sit in a room filled with salt-rich air. When one inhales this salt-installed air, the particles travel through the entire respiratory system and the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of salt clean lungs and sinuses. Salt treatment can also help with seasonal allergies and chest congestion. One can even use a neti pot with the help of which warm salty water runs through the nasal cavities and cleans them. It reduces germs and binds to pollutants, helping in elimination.
Balances Body pH Levels
Himalayan sea salt’s rich mineral content can help balance the body’s pH levels. When your pH has a healthy acid-to-alkaline ratio, it will significantly affect your overall health. In addition, a proper pH helps foster immunity and ensures good digestion. Since Himalayan sea salt contains sodium and other electrolytes, it directly affects blood pH.
Natural Digestive Aid
You can use Himalayan salt to make sole, a saturated solution containing purified water and Himalayan salt. To prepare, fill a jug with 1/4th Himalayan salt and add water up to the brim. Cover the jug with a lid and allow the solution to sit overnight. The salt will dissolve in the water by morning, and if there is any salt left at the bottom of the jar, it means the water has been boiled, wholly absorbed all the salt, and is fully saturated. Mix one teaspoon of this sole water in a regular glass of water and consume it every morning to see the results.
Improves Sleep Quality
Himalayan sea salt is said to help encourage better, more restful sleep due to its high mineral content. It may be hard to believe, but eating enough salt in one’s routine diet is key to a good night’s rest since it is a natural sleep aid. Since 1989, sleep disturbances and irregularities have proven to have links to low-sodium diets. The research was small, but the findings were fascinating. Subjects on low-sodium diets (around 500 milligrams a day) woke up almost twice as often during the night and got about 10% less sleep than those on a low-fat diet (2,000 milligrams of sodium a day). Conversely, a high-sodium diet (5,000 milligrams per day, which is generally not recommended) resulted in significantly longer sleep and fewer midnight wakings than a typical diet.
Regulates Blood Sugar
One of the essential benchmarks of body health is the blood sugar level. Having too low or too high a blood sugar level has its corresponding disadvantages, and if the problem becomes extreme, it can be very hard on one’s body. After all, diabetes is a disease caused by persistently elevated blood sugar levels. People who already have diabetes, on the other hand, will benefit from a high Himalayan salt intake. This difference is because Himalayan salt contains 84 minerals, four of which help in maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar; they are:
- Chromium: The primary function of chromium is to convert carbohydrates into glucose. It aids in insulin control and synthesis. Insulin would not correctly function if chromium was not present in the body.
- Vanadium: Vanadyl sulphate, a salt of the mineral vanadium (vanadium oxysulfate), has demonstrated insulin-like effects on glucose metabolism in animal and human trials. Patients with both insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and non-insulin-dependent diabetes showed a considerable reduction in insulin requirements in clinical tests.
- Manganese: Doctors have used manganese to treat diabetes and hypoglycemia by keeping blood glucose levels regular.
- Magnesium: Sugar, carbohydrates, and fats digest more efficiently, and blood sugar levels are stable.
Potential Side Effects of Himalayan Pink Salt
Salt is needed daily to be alive and well, but overdosing on salt can have severe consequences. Himalayan Pink Salt’s side effects apply to all salts, even ordinary table salt.
Oedema or Fluid Retention
Oedema is a visible swelling caused by fluid accumulation in body tissues. Excess salt causes the body to retain water, which seeps into the interstitial tissue spaces and results in oedema. Sodium binds to water in the body and helps maintain the fluid’s balance inside and outside cells. Therefore, the body may retain the water when consuming highly salty meals. Several research papers show that increased sodium intake leads to increased fluid retention inside the body, leading to oedema.
Decreased Bone Mineral Density (due to potassium deficiency)
Potassium has the potential to neutralise acid load and prevent calcium loss from the bone, resulting in a boost in bone mineral density. When sodium levels go up, potassium levels go down as the kidneys respond to excess sodium by flushing it out in the urine. Unfortunately, this also removes potassium.
Elevated Blood Pressure
The body removes unwanted fluid by filtering blood through the kidneys. Excess fluids are pulled out, stored in the bladder, and eventually excreted as urine. The kidneys use osmosis to draw the extra water out of the blood. A careful balance of sodium and potassium is essential. Studies suggest that eating salt raises the amount of sodium in the bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the kidney’s ability to remove water. As a result of the excess fluid and strain on the sensitive blood arteries going to the kidneys, blood pressure rises.
Worst Case Scenario
Excess sodium consumption, particularly sodium chloride, has several negative consequences. The biggest concerns revolve around electrolyte imbalance, the ions present in bodily fluids that keep the body hydrated and ensure proper bodily functions like nerve impulses and heartbeat.
Consuming too much sodium can cause potassium levels to decrease and vice versa. As a result, many people lack potassium due to excessive sodium consumption. Dehydration, cramping, and increased blood pressure can all result from this. In addition, it can lead to hypernatremia (high sodium levels) and hypokalemia (low potassium levels). These are life-threateningly low potassium levels. Nausea, constipation, muscle spasms, weakness, irregular heart rhythms, exhaustion, and, in the worst cases, muscle disintegration and paralysis are all prevalent symptoms.
Himalayan Pink Salt is a rock salt from the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan. It contains 98% sodium chloride, and 2% of it comprises 84 trace minerals. It is hand-mined and unrefined. While there isn’t significant evidence to suggest that Himalayan Pink Salt has more health benefits than regular table salt, it is beneficial to individuals’ overall health and well-being. It does not contain any additives or harmful artificial ingredients, making it a natural alternative. However, regular salt is a primary dietary source of iodine — one thing that Himalayan salt lacks.
According to the National Institute of Health, one needs iodine for thyroid hormones and metabolism to function. Therefore, you may add other sources of iodine like fish, dairy products, or dietary supplements to swap regular Salt for Pink Salt. So experts advise that one can use a blend of regular salt and Himalayan pink salt in the daily routine to get most of it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Does Himalayan Pink Salt help you lose weight?
A. Osmosis is a well-known process that helps retain water inside the body’s cells with a high salt concentration. Excess water makes the body appear bloated and obese; it’s also a common cause of oedema. Himalayan Salt crystals remove this excess water from the cells. It also reduces the body’s desire for heavy foods in sugar and carbohydrates.
Q. Is Himalayan Pink Salt good for you?
A. We find several minerals in Himalayan Pink Salt but not in table salt. On the other hand, we find these minerals in relatively small amounts. They may assist in minimising sodium intake, but you should consume them in moderation, as with any other salt.
Q. Is Pink Salt better than sea salt?
A. Sea salt, a popularly used salt by most households, has been stripped of minerals. It only has high sodium chloride. On the other hand, Pink Salt is unrefined and packed with 84 minerals, lacking in modern diets. Regular use of small quantities of Pink Salt maintains our electrolyte balance and is an excellent alternative to sea salt.
Q. Which salt is less harmful?
A. Almost all salt varieties have health benefits and can be used interchangeably in your cuisine. Because of its thyroid-protective properties, iodised salt receives a modest advantage. However, it’s equally critical to limit your salt intake to maintain blood pressure and heart health. The WHO recommends that the ideal salt limit for any individual is one teaspoon (2300 mg) per day. People with high blood pressure should consume 3/4 teaspoon (1500 mg sodium) per day.
Q. How do I use Himalayan Pink Salt on my face?
A. Himalayan Pink Salt is already a hot ingredient in the culinary world. However, this ingredient can also help you have healthy skin if you use it in DIYs. It can also be used as a foot soak to ease pain and relax muscles. Pink Salt contains anti-inflammatory effects that reduce irritations and breakouts while hydrating, healing, and soothing the skin. It also aids in the retention of moisture in the skin’s deeper layers. In addition, salt is a natural exfoliant that quickly sloughs off dead skin cells, making it a skin-softening body scrub.
Q. Does Himalayan Pink Salt raise blood pressure?
A. Both the level of sodium intake and increased blood pressure has a direct link. According to the USDA, Himalayan Salt may have less sodium than table salt – up to 200 milligrams less per serving in some situations. This ratio may allow you to use more Himalayan salt in your food while lowering your total sodium intake. Excess salt, on the other hand, raises blood pressure. As a result, reducing sodium in your diet can help keep this pressure within range.
Q. How much Pink Salt should we consume in a day?
A. WHO recommends a daily salt intake of fewer than 5 grams (about 2 grams sodium) per person. However, experts from various countries suggest that most people consume far more salt than is advised.
Q. What kind of salt do chefs use?
A. Chefs usually use table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, and coarse salt.
Q. Why is Himalayan Salt called Himalayan?
A. Himalayan sea salt is a gourmet salt with a confusing name. It isn’t from the Himalayan ranges, nor does it come from the sea. However, Himalayan gourmet sea salt is exclusively available in Pakistan, specifically from the Khewra salt mine in Punjab’s Jhelum District. Therefore, we call it ‘Himalayan’ because it is located not in the Himalayas but in the neighbouring salt range foothills.
Q. Does Himalayan Salt lower cholesterol?
A. Although Pink Salt has larger crystals than table salt, it has a lower sodium content per teaspoon. It also has a saltier flavour than table salt; thus, it can be used in smaller amounts to produce the same taste. However, excess salt raises sodium levels, leading to hypertension, which can be dangerous when combined with high cholesterol levels. If you must use salt, make sure you buy Himalayan rock salt rather than processed salt to avoid this issue.