Himalayan pink salt is a pink-hued variety of salt that is sourced near the Himalaya mountains of South Asia. Himalayan salt is believed by many to be a healthier alternative to common table salt, or sodium chloride. Though mined like rock salt, Himalayan pink salt is technically a sea salt.
Salt is an essential nutrient required for many biological processes that has seasoned our dinners for thousands of years. However, its use has a few notable disadvantages for human health.
For this reason, Himalayan pink salt has emerged as an alternative to regular salt, purportedly because it is less stressful for the body to consume. A number of health benefits are attributed to Himalayan pink salt, but is there any real science behind these claims?
Himalayan pink salt contains less sodium per serving than ordinary table salt. Table salt contains 2360 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon, whereas a teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt contains 1680 milligrams of sodium — a reduction of about one-third.
Himalayan pink salt can contain trace amounts of minerals that table salt does not, including:
This can vary depending on where the Himalayan pink salt is sourced. More importantly, some samples of Himalayan pink salt have been found to contain potentially toxic elements like arsenic, mercury, and lead.
Potential Health Benefits of Himalayan Pink Salt
While Himalayan pink salt can contain minerals that table salt does not, these minerals exist only in very small quantities. Scientists don’t believe that the amount of additional minerals in Himalayan pink salt is great enough to make a significant difference in your diet.
Even so, its similar chemical composition means that Himalayan pink salt has many of the same benefits as regular salt, which include:
Improved Respiratory Health
Many believe that salt therapy, which involves the inhalation of air infused with salt, is beneficial for respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Although much more research on this point is needed, scientists have found statistically significant improvements in questionnaires given to respondents with COPD who used a dry salt inhaler.
Prevention of Dehydration
Salt is necessary for maintaining adequate and balanced hydration levels in the body. Getting enough salt, especially before or after vigorous exercise, is needed to prevent dehydration caused by lost water and salt, a condition called hyponatremia.
Skin Care Benefits
Although more research is needed here, salt is believed to have a number of beneficial effects for various skin conditions like eczema, but this may also depend on where it’s sourced. The National Eczema Association recommends adding a cup of salt to bathwater as a relief for eczema flare-ups.
Potential Risks of Himalayan Sea Salt
There’s evidence to suggest that too much salt, including Himalayan pink salt, can damage various structures of the body. It’s important to bear these possible risks in mind and consume all kinds of salt in moderation.
Because excess salt can cause high blood pressure, it can also increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, or CKD. Scientific guidelines advise a moderate salt intake to slow the progression of CKD in people who have it.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease. While the science directly linking salt consumption with heart disease is itself inconclusive, too much salt is known to cause high blood pressure, establishing a possible indirect link.
Consuming too much salt may cause the level of calcium leached out of your body during urination to increase. As such, scientists suspect that excess salt could increase the risk of osteoporosis and other bone disorders, though more research is needed.
Hypernatremia (Excess Sodium)
The opposite of hyponatremia, hypernatremia is caused by excessive sodium levels in the blood. This is a serious condition that requires medical attention, though it is relatively uncommon.