Quantcast
Popular

Pink Himalayan vs. Table Salt: Which Is Healthier?

By Dr. Keith Pearson

Pink Himalayan salt is a type of salt that's naturally pink in color and mined near the Himalayas in Pakistan.


Many people claim that it's loaded with minerals and provides incredible health benefits.

For these reasons, pink Himalayan salt is often thought to be much healthier than regular table salt.

However, little research on pink Himalayan salt exists, and other people insist that these extravagant health claims are nothing more than speculation.

This article looks at the key differences between pink Himalayan salt and regular salt and evaluates the evidence to decide which type of salt is healthier.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a mineral largely consisting of the compound sodium chloride.

Salt contains so much sodium chloride—around 98 percent by weight—that most people use the words "salt" and "sodium" interchangeably.

Salt can be produced by evaporating salt water or extracting solid salt from underground salt mines.

Before it reaches your grocery store, table salt also goes through a refining process to remove impurities and any other minerals besides sodium chloride.

Anticaking agents are sometimes added to help absorb moisture, and iodine is often included to help consumers prevent iodine deficiency.

Humans have used salt to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years.

Interestingly, sodium also plays an important role in several biological functions, including fluid balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction (1, 2, 3).

For this reason, it's absolutely necessary to have salt, or sodium, in your diet.

However, many health professionals claim that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, although recent research has called this long-held belief into question (4).

Because of the potential dangers of consuming too much table salt, many people have turned to using pink Himalayan salt, believing it to be a healthier alternative.

Summary: Salt consists mostly of sodium chloride and helps regulate important processes in the body. The potentially harmful effects of too much salt have caused many people to start using pink Himalayan salt instead.

What Is Pink Himalayan Salt?

Pink Himalayan salt is a pink-colored salt extracted from the Khewra Salt Mine, which is located near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

The Khewra Salt Mine is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world.

The pink Himalayan salt harvested from this mine is believed to have been formed millions of years ago from the evaporation of ancient bodies of water.

The salt is hand-extracted and minimally processed to yield an unrefined product that's free of additives and thought to be much more natural than table salt.

Like table salt, pink Himalayan salt is mostly comprised of sodium chloride.

However, the natural harvesting process allows pink Himalayan salt to possess many other minerals and trace elements that are not found in regular table salt.

Some people estimate it may contain up to 84 different minerals and trace elements. In fact, it's these very minerals, especially iron, that give it its characteristic pink color.

Summary: Pink Himalayan salt is harvested by hand from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It's minimally processed to provide a natural alternative to regular table salt.

How Is Pink Himalayan Salt Used?

Pink Himalayan salt has several dietary and non-dietary uses.

You Can Eat It or Cook on It

In general, you can cook with pink Himalayan salt just like you would with regular table salt. Put it in sauces and marinades or add it to your food at the dinner table.

Some people even use pink Himalayan salt as a cooking surface. Large blocks of the salt can be purchased and used to grill, sear and impart a salty flavor to meats and other foods.

Pink Himalayan salt can be purchased finely ground just like regular table salt, but it is not uncommon to also find coarse varieties sold in larger crystal sizes.

Considerations for Cooking

Whenever you're measuring any kind of salt by volume, it's important to consider how finely it's ground.

You may need to use larger quantities of coarse salt to match the saltiness of finely ground salt. This is because finely ground salt is packed closer together than coarse salt, so there's more of it in a particular volume.

For example, 1 teaspoon of any type of finely ground salt may contain around 2,300 mg of sodium, while 1 teaspoon of coarse salt will vary based on crystal size but could contain less than 2,000 mg of sodium.

Furthermore, pink Himalayan salt contains slightly less sodium chloride than regular table salt, which you may need to account for when cooking.

Current dietary guidelines in the U.S. recommend that most adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This is equal to around 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of finely ground salt (5).

However, when you're using pink Himalayan salt, it's best to check the nutrition label, as sodium content can vary widely, depending on the brand.

Non-Dietary Uses

While pink Himalayan salt has several dietary uses, there are also a number of popular non-dietary uses.

Pink Himalayan salt is used in some bath salts, which claim to improve skin conditions and soothe sore muscles.

Salt lamps are also often made out of pink Himalayan salt and claimed to remove air pollutants. These lamps consist of large blocks of salt with an inner light source that heats the salt.

Additionally, spending time in man-made salt caves formed out of pink Himalayan salt is popular among people seeking to improve skin and respiratory problems.

But the research supporting these three non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt is relatively weak. More studies are needed to confirm these claims.

Summary: You can use pink Himalayan salt just like regular salt when you're cooking. Bath salts, salt lamps and salt caves are popular non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt Contains More Minerals

Both table salt and pink Himalayan salt consist mostly of sodium chloride, but pink Himalayan salt has up to 84 other minerals and trace elements.

These include common minerals like potassium and calcium, as well as lesser-known minerals like strontium and molybdenum.

One study analyzed the mineral contents of various types of salts, including pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt (6).

Below is a comparison of well-known minerals found in a gram of the two salts:

As you can see, table salt may have more sodium, but pink Himalayan salt contains more calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron (6).

Nevertheless, the amounts of these minerals in pink Himalayan salt are very, very small.

They are found in such small quantities that it would take 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) of pink Himalayan salt to obtain the recommended daily amount of potassium, for instance. Needless to say, that's an unrealistic amount of salt to consume.

For the most part, the extra minerals in pink Himalayan salt are found in such small quantities that they are unlikely to provide you with any health benefits whatsoever.

Summary: Pink Himalayan salt contains several minerals not found in regular salt. However, these minerals are found in very small quantities and unlikely to provide any health benefits.

Are the Health Claims True?

Despite the fact that pink Himalayan salt only contains tiny amounts of additional minerals, many people still claim that it can provide a number of health benefits.

The truth is, most of these claims do not have any research to support them.

Some of pink Himalayan salt's commonly promoted health claims include that it can:

• Improve respiratory diseases
• Balance your body's pH
• Reduce signs of aging
• Improve sleep quality
• Regulate blood sugar
• Increase libido

Some of the claims related to the non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt may be loosely based on research.

The use of salt caves as a treatment for various lung diseases has been evaluated in a few studies. The results suggest that there could be some benefit, but overall, more rigorous research is needed to investigate their effectiveness (7, 8, 9).

On the other hand, some of these health claims are actually just normal functions of sodium chloride in the body, so you'll get these benefits from any kind of salt.

For example, researchers have found that very low-salt diets may contribute to sleeping problems (10).

This suggests that an adequate amount of salt may be necessary for quality sleep. However, this was not studied in pink Himalayan salt and is likely a function of the sodium chloride in any salt.

Also, the minerals in pink Himalayan salt are not present in large enough quantities to have any effect on balancing the body's pH. Your lungs and kidneys tightly regulate your body's pH without the help of pink Himalayan salt.

Furthermore, blood sugar levels, aging and libido are all primarily controlled by factors other than the salt in your diet, and there are simply no scientific studies to suggest eating pink Himalayan salt can benefit any of these aspects of your health.

Similarly, there is no research comparing the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If research did exist, it is unlikely that it would find any differences in their health effects.

Summary: Many health claims are often attached to pink Himalayan salt. However, most of these claims do not have research to support them.

The Bottom Line

Given all of the misguided health claims, it's easy to see why some people are confused about which type of salt to use.

But no studies have compared the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If they were to, it's unlikely that they'd report any differences.

Nonetheless, if you'd like to avoid the additives in regular table salt, pink Himalayan salt is a great natural alternative. But don't expect to see the major health benefits that you might read about online.

And remember that table salt is a major dietary source of iodine, so if you're using pink Himalayan salt, you will need to get iodine from other foods like seaweed, dairy products and fish to help avoid iodine deficiency (11).

Finally, pink Himalayan salt is often much more expensive than regular salt. So if you don't mind the additives, using regular table salt should be just fine.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!