Health

Himalayan salt, placebo or real health benefits?

Salt is salt, no matter which name it has. Kosher, sea, table or Himalayan salt are the most common types of salt available in supermarkets. However, the Himalayan one has gained some popularity due to its “apparent” health benefits. Nevertheless, there are no studies with enough scientific evidence supporting that Himalayan salt provides more health benefits than common salt. Therefore, this article will try to bring some clarity in the salty darkness. It will distinguish between the myth and reality.

Salt is a mineral with the main ingredient: sodium chlorine, up to 98%. So, for this reason we can indistinctly use any of the names. One of the reasons why Himalayan salt seems to have some health benefits is because it contains almost 90 different minerals and trace elements. Minerals such as magnesium, iron, iodine, calcium or potassium. They give it its light pink colour.

Myth and reality

Facts can’t be denied and Himalayan salt does contain a wide variant of minerals. However, if all types of salt are made of up to 98% of sodium chloride, then there is only 2% of room for the rest of minerals. In this case we should ask how much Himalayan salt someone needs to consume to receive some health benefits? Considering the small quantity in which people normally consume it and the tiny quantity of these minerals in the salt, they are unlikely to be provided with any remarkable health benefits. Consuming small quantities of salt? Yes, at least it should be like that. Excess consumption can lead to a high blood pressure and heart disease.

Myth number one: Himalayan salt is higher in minerals than table salt, but to have any benefit, you would need to consume a huge amount.

As an example, if a gram of pink salt provides 1.06 milligrams of magnesium against 0.0139 milligrams in table salt, how much Himalayan salt you would need to consume to reach a decent amount of magnesium? According to U.S National Institutes of Health, the daily recommended dose of magnesium goes from 300 to 400 milligrams for men and women (1).

Himalayan salt
Comparison between Himalayan salt and sea salt

Another health benefit of Himalayan salt claims that it contains less sodium than most of other salt. However, most other types of salt are also made of 98% sodium chlorine. However, there is something to consider here. As pink salt has larger crystals than sea salt, when someone for example uses a teaspoon of pink salt, they would need less of it. Due to its larger size, it provides a saltier flavour than other types of salt. It means that the smaller quantity of pink salt will provide the same taste like the bigger quantity of regular salt. But be careful here, because Himalayan salt is also available in smaller size. Similar to regular salt.

Myth number two: pink salt does not contain less sodium than regular salt. The shape of Himalayan salt is larger than regular one, therefore less salt is needed to achieve a desirable salty taste. Less is more.

As we can see, salt remains salt no matters which name it has. However, not all salt is created equal. Another claim for pink salt states that it is more natural than regular one and it seems close to reality. Evaporation of salt water or extraction of solid salt from mines are techniques used to produce salt. They seem as natural processes, but in some cases, they are not at all natural.

Himalayan salt
Different Himalayan salt form available in a supermarket

Common salt goes under a highly refining process to remove impurities and some other minerals. On top of that, some bulking agents are added to help absorb moisture. But, pink salt is hand-extracted and minimally processed, to yield an unrefined product. As a result, Himalayan salt is free of additives and, for this reason, it’s much more natural than other salt. Therefore, it preserves all its goodness: almost 90 different minerals and trace elements.

Myth number three: Himalayan salt is more natural than the rest. Well, it’s not a myth, it’s a reality.

So which salt will you buy next time?

Reference:

(1) Magnesium – Consumer (nih.gov)

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