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Found primarily in Pakistan, Himalayan pink salt is supposedly a healthier substitute for table salt and a “fancy” alternative to sea salt. The question is: should you make the switch?
Miners gather Himalayan pink salt from the Salt Range mountains in the remote Punjab region of Pakistan, south of Islamabad. It is a variety of rock salt that acquires its pink color from impurities contained within the salt. People have been mining Himalayan pink salt for hundreds of years. Historically, it has been used for food preparation and preservation.
Nutritional Value of Himalayan Pink Salt
The truth is, Himalayan pink salt is chemically similar to regular table salt, which is sodium chloride. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) — which manages a detailed nutritional analysis on all food marketed in the U.S. — conventional table salt has 581 mg of sodium per quarter-teaspoon. In comparison, Himalayan pink salt has 388 mg of sodium per quarter-teaspoon. While the latter has a much lower sodium content, it is only because Himalayan pink salt is less dense than regular table salt and its generally coarser grind. When it comes to weight, both are equal in sodium content.
Himalayan pink salt does contain a few extra minerals that regular table salt does not have. For instance, Himalayan pink salt has trace amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Still, Himalayan pink salt does not contain sufficient calcium, potassium, and magnesium in quantities that are enough to make a significant difference in your health.
When you browse through the array of pink Himalayan salt options at the supermarket, you may notice that the Nutrition Facts on various brands state that a serving of the salt contains 0% of the daily value for calcium, potassium, and magnesium. That is quite misleading because, in truth, the salt does contain a bit of all three. Although, it is important to know that a single serving of the salt (a quarter-teaspoon or so) contains less than 1% of any mineral. Therefore, the label must claim that the content is zero.
An ounce of Himalayan pink salt (approximately 4.6 teaspoons of salt) has about 6% of the recommended daily iron intake. Nonetheless, that is an unhealthy amount of salt to eat if your purpose is to consume a bit of iron.
In addition, some manufacturers insist that Himalayan pink salt has many other trace minerals. However, there is little independent research to back up these claims.
There is plenty of hype surrounding the supposed extraordinary health benefits of Himalayan pink salt, but scientific research supports little of that hype. Himalayan pink salt does have benefits — it is visually more appealing with its pink color, and some people say the trace minerals add a more interesting taste to dishes than regular table salt. So, should you make the switch? Science says not necessarily. But if you are interested in the trace minerals found in Himalayan pink salt, you can add it to your cooking recipes, then get your essential nutrients from other sources.
Feeling salty? Get more salt-related content here.