Himalayan salt – How good is it, really?
This season pink is in, but not in the form of summer dresses and sandals! Instead of running the catwalk, the rosy shade is storming dinner tables nationwide.
Himalayan pink salt - once considered the more expensive, better looking form of table salt purchased only by foodies and the health conscious - is now being picked up by supermarkets and regular shoppers.
Fans say it is more beneficial than standard salt – claims suggest it is less processed and is rich in minerals, making it a ‘healthy salt’. Pink salt crystals are even being added to baths and spas, with the idea circulating that the minerals are good for the skin and promote relaxation.
But how true are these health claims?
The claim – Himalayan salt is healthier because it has more minerals than standard salt.
Is it true?
This claim is yet to be proven. Pink salt is an unrefined raw material found in caves. It was formed around 250 million years ago as ocean salt made its way into the earth. It is mined by hand and because it is harvested in solid crystals, it appears more potent than regular salt.
The trace amounts of iron found in Himalayan salt is what give it its rosy hue.
Yes, the salt contains essential minerals such as bromine, boron, zinc and others; but we are already consuming these nutrients through better sources. Rene Ficek, nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating says, “the truth is that the amount of minerals in the salt is too miniscule to make any measurable difference, we consume plenty of the same nutrients from other elements – grains, vegetables and meat.”
The claim – Himalayan salt is less processed than standard salt.
Is it true?
Well, whilst it’s true that standard salt can contain anti-caking agents (a man-made additive) and many of the nutrients in salt are lost in the grinding process, the impact on our overall well-being is next to nothing.
Many people believe the attractive pink salt is the better option, as its cave-form will mean it is not as naturally-polluted as sea salt. “The idea of eating pure, unprocessed foods appear more healthful, but in this case is doesn’t have an advantage" says Ficek.
While these claims have little evidence and the pink salt seems to be more of a trend than a new health discovery, it does have its benefits. Himalayan salt is often stone-ground; the bigger granules mean you end up eating less than you would if you were pouring on the tiny table salt granules. This is a good thing – research shows that on average, adults are consuming 8g of salt per day, 2g over the recommended intake!
The more salt you consume, the more fluid the body retains – this creates more work for the heart and can result in increased blood pressure. So, if you want a more appealing colour on the table, go for it - but the benefits are minimal. It may be better for your health to try adding herbs and spices for flavour, rather than salt, whatever colour it may be.
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