Pink salt or Himalayan salt, abundantly found in Pakistan is a mineral, but is most commonly considered a spice and used as such. The salt is mined from the salt mines that are enormous and stretch through miles. Pink salt originally came from the sea, but eventually, when the sea dried up it left behind salt deposits in the mountains. This salt is also called Jurassic sea salt but was formed much before the Jurassic period. Pink salt was used as a preservative by the Himalayan people; who considered the salt very valuable, and would carry it with them on their journeys to use the salt for trade.
The impurities and traces of minerals give the pink salt its color. The color may range from light and subtle pink to bright pink depending on the mineral content. Finely ground pink salt looks lighter as compared to coarsely ground pink salt. The salt has been marketed as a healthier substitute for the table salt that we all use commonly in our cooking. The companies selling pink salt claim that it contains higher amounts of minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium required for healthy living. The chemical composition of pink salt is the same as table salt which is Sodium Chloride. A lot of companies make us believe that the sodium content in pink salt is lesser than the table salt showcasing it as a healthier alternative, but that may not always be the case.
Pink salt does contain some minerals which are not found in table salt, but the amount of mineral content is negligible. Pink salt does not contain enough quantities of minerals to have any type of impact on our overall health. Around 4.6 teaspoons of pink salt contain six percent of our daily iron requirement. This amount of salt can cause more harm to our bodies than good. There is no research to back up the alleged fact that pink salt contains more minerals. Pink salt does not contain iodine like the table salt does, which can lead to iodine deficiency in some groups such as:
- Pregnant women
- People who consume fewer dairy products and eggs
Benefits of Pink or Himalayan salt:
There is no evidence to show that pink salt is healthier than other types of salt. The pink color makes the salt attractive, and some people prefer to use it just for the color. Pink salt is used for rubbing on meat, etc. There are some other benefits of Himalayan salt like:
- Respiratory Health: Pink salt rooms or caves are popular as it is believed that breathing in air infused with salt is beneficial for people suffering from respiratory diseases. People suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are known to have improved after salt therapy or a dry salt inhaler.
- Skin Care: Pink salt added to bathwater is believed to be beneficial for skin conditions like eczema.
- Prevents Dehydration: Salt is essential for keeping the body hydrated. Health coaches recommend eating enough salt before and after workouts to avoid dehydration or hyponatremia (falling sodium levels in the body).
Potential harmful effects of Pink salt:
- Harms the kidney: Pink salt consumed in large quantities can lead to high blood pressure and kidney diseases. Chronic Kidney disease can lead to kidney failures and also prove fatal in certain cases. A smaller intake of salt can slow down the progression of kidney disease.
- Cardiovascular Diseases: High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks is something that most people know. While the consumption of salt and cardiovascular diseases is not directly linked, a higher salt intake can cause a rise in blood pressure, thus causing heart diseases.
Pink salt is used just like our other salts. There is no conclusive evidence to show that it is in any way better than our common table salt. A lot of people prefer using pink salt because of its attractive color while some people find pink salt more flavorful than table salt. Table salt often contains additives to avoid caking, so some people prefer to use pink salt as it is free of additives. It is perfectly alright and healthy to use Himalayan salt as a substitute for table salt, but one must not fall for marketing gimmicks which may not always accurately depict the qualities of the salt.