What is Himalayan Pink Salt?
Himalayan pink salt is neither Himalayan, nor is it technically pink. This salt comes from mines in Pakistan’s Salt Range mountains, around 300 km or 186.4 miles southwest of the Himalayas. It’s rich in iron, magnesium, sulfur, and other elements, but it’s the iron which gives this salt its signature color, specifically from the red iron oxide made from exposing this iron-rich salt to oxygen over thousands of years. Essentially, it’s rusty.1
Rusty salt, although a captivating pink color from white salt crystals mixing with rusty red crystals, might not sound tasty. However, the exact opposite is true. Himalayan pink salt’s flavor is as captivating as its color. It isn’t shockingly salty like table salt or sea salt, instead bursting with complex, fascinating earthiness. If you taste it plain, you can almost imagine tasting the individual elements like chromium, potassium, and zinc that are essential to the survival of life on Earth.
While some like using pink salt because of its fancy vibes, many use it for its possible health benefits. But, is it worth it?
Himalayan pink salt is filled with so many other elements than sodium and chlorine, the essential elements to make edible salt, that it’s lower in sodium than common white salts. The amount of sodium varies, as the salt deposits aren’t uniform in composition. Usually, it’s around 25% lower in sodium than regular salt. That’s almost as much as low-sodium salt brands!2
However, less salt-per-salt doesn’t mean you need to use more. The other elements in pink salt mean more flavor, keeping whatever dish you make satisfyingly tasty.
Trace amounts of added nutrients
This salt contains more varied trace nutrients than sea salt, plus provides some of them in higher levels. However, as this salt is still primarily just salt, you would need to eat two tablespoons of this salt for it to be nutritionally significant. That’s triple the recommended serving size, even for the 11-16% of the population who need a higher salt diet, so focusing on other sources to improve health is definitely the best option.2
Below is a list of the less basic nutrients found in Himalayan pink salt, besides iron, calcium, and potassium which it also contains. If you eat a varied plant-based diet, you'll encounter all these plus the basic ones—because plants eat rock particles in soil just like the particles in Himalayan salt. Plants to the rescue once again!
|Dark leafy greens||Yes|
⊗ Overconsumption to get more of the trace nutrientsWhile there are a lot of trace nutrients in this salt, and it’s lower in sodium, this salt is still salt. Salt has health risks like raising blood pressure and dehydration. Eating more than 125% of your daily salt intake when you consume Himalayan pink salt is not recommended.
⊗ May contain leadSome pink salt, though labelled Himalayan, isn’t actually from the usual Pakastani mines. Pink salt mined from Peruvian mines in South America in particular may be contaminated with lead, which is unsafe in any amount. Knowing the risks and checking your salt sources before eating may be important for your health.
⊗ May contain trace amounts of cadmiumThis salt isn’t immune to industrial pollution. As of 2020, some Himalayan salt was found to contain trace amounts of cadmium. However, the levels were very small—too small to be dangerous at this time.
⊗ Microplastic contamination is on the rise
If you’re avoiding microplastics, especially if you’re sensitive or want to reduce them in your diet, Himalayan salt might not be for you. Sadly, both the stunning pink and the iron-rich black Himalayan salts are even more contaminated with microplastics than sea salt.3
As of 2023, the manufacturing process, as well as environmental pollution of microplastics from sources even including the polyester clothing of manufacturing workers has exceeded that of the oceans.4 However, hope is not all lost for clean salt. Engineering scientists at Princeton recently created a filter strong enough to remove microplastics from ocean water, a task formerly thought impossible because the particles are so tiny.5
An alternative use for Himalayan pink salt is salt lamps. They can add this beautiful salt to your home without eating it. While there are no scientifically proven health benefits to these lamps, many experience benefits.
⊗ Resource depletion
Unlike sea salt, which is found in 97% of the water that covers 71% of Earth, mined salt is found in much fewer sources. Himalayan pink salt lamps are also popular, further depleting this precious resource. It is important to carefully consider our consumption of this salt.
If you have a salt lamp or granulated salt you no longer want, for example if you get a cat and can't confidently keep it from licking it, give it away instead of throwing it out. You can’t retrieve salt from a dump like you can a diamond—it will dissolve into the ground and be lost forever.
Is Himalayan pink salt worth the risks? Unless the manufacturing and industrial processes near the salt mines are cleaned up, it’s unlikely. However, a plant-based diet can provide high amounts of all the nutrients in this salt. Sticking to eating a variety of plants may be the best option.
- Kuhn, T., Chytry, P., Souza, G.M.S., Bauer, D.V., Amaral, L., Dias, J.F. (2020). Signature of the Himalayan salt. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, 477, 150-153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nimb.2019.07.008.
- Fayet-Moore, F., Wibisono, C., Carr, P., Duve, E., Petocz, P., Lancaster, G., McMillan, J., et al. (2020). An Analysis of the Mineral Composition of Pink Salt Available in Australia. Foods, 9(10), 1490. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods9101490
- Vidyasakar, A., Krishnakumar, S., Suresh Kumar, K., Neelavannan, K., Anbalagan, S., Kasilingam, K., Srinivasalu, S., Saravanan, P., Kamaraj, S., Magesh, N.S. (2021) Microplastic contamination in edible sea salt from the largest salt-producing states of India. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112728.
- Kuttykattil, A., Raju, S., Vanka, K.S. et al. Consuming microplastics? Investigation of commercial salts as a source of microplastics (MPs) in diet. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 930–942 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-22101-0
- Ozden, S., Monti, S., Tozzini, V., Dutta, N. S., Gili, S., Caggiano, N., Link, A. J., Pugno, N. M., Higgins, J., Priestley, R. D., & Arnold, C. B. (2022). Egg protein derived ultralightweight hybrid monolithic aerogel for water purification. Materials Today, 59, 46–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mattod.2022.08.001
- Lang, A. (2021, April 16). 8 High Chromium Foods. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chromium-foods#4.-Orange-juice
- Spritzler, F. (2022, October 14). 10 magnesium-rich foods that are super healthy. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12
- Leaf Group. (n.d.). 14 foods high in magnesium for muscle and nerve health | livestrong. LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/13731063-foods-high-in-magnesium/
- Leaf Group. (n.d.-b). Which foods is silicon found in? | livestrong. LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/170903-what-food-is-silicon-found-in/
- Petre, A. (2020, February 26). Foods with sulfur: What you should know. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-with-sulfur#food-beverage-sources
- West, H. (2022, September 19). 10 best foods to boost your zinc intake. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-high-in-zinc#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12
Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:
Higher levels of energy;
Aids in energy and overall happiness;
Provides a sense of comfort and relief;
Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;
Accomplish weight-loss and management; and
Improves mental and cognitive functioning.
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