Himalayan Salt Myths: Is the Hype Warranted?

Himalayan salt is everywhere. But is the hype based on any hard facts? Let’s take a deeper look into the most popular Himalayan salt myths out there.

Related: 9 Popular Lies About Sugar Busted By Science

What is Himalayan Salt, Exactly?

The uses of Himalayan salt are manifold. Besides being a substitute for regular table salt as a seasoning and for cooking, it’s also commonly used in salt lamps, body scrubs, and bath salts.

You probably know Himalayan salt for its pretty pink hue. But its famous color is not the main reason why pink salt is up to 20x more expensive than regular salt.

The extensive marketing around Himalayan salt and its alleged health benefits is the largest popularity (and price) factor. Typical claims about the health benefits of pink salt include:

  • increased hydration,
  • stabilization of pH level within cells,
  • increased libido,
  • improved circulation,
  • and lowered blood pressure.

But is there any truth to these marketing claims, or is Himalayan salt just an over-priced hype?

Myth 1: Himalayan Salt Comes From the Himalayan Mountains

Himalayan salt’s name is misleading. It’s origins lie in the Khewra Salt Mines in the Punjab region of Pakistan, not in the Himalayan mountains. Khewra is home to the second largest salt mine in the world, which produces a whopping 325.000 tons of salt per year.

Legend has it that the region’s rich salt reserves were already discovered by Alexander the Great over 300 years B.C.His army’s horses were observed licking the stones at Khewra, which led to the discovery of the mine. The first official records of mining activities in the Khewra region, however, date back to the 1200s (1).

The Khewra mines are the product of ancient ocean salt deposits. This technically makes Himalayan salt a sea salt, not a rock salt (which it’s usually marketed as).

Myth 2: Himalayan Salt is a Great Source of Minerals

It’s true, Himalayan salt does contain more minerals than regular salt. Pink salt gets its famous color from trace minerals such as iron, chromium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and calcium.

Because of its trace mineral content, popular belief has it that pink salt is a fantastic source of electrolytes and helps keep the body hydrated. But is Himalayan salt really a great source of minerals?

The simple answer: No.

With a sodium chloride content of around 98%, Himalayan salt’s chemical structure is almost identical to that of conventional salt. Only about 2% of pink salt consists of trace minerals. What’s more, although it contains 84 trace minerals in total, only 15 are known to be important for the human body (2). Many of these minerals come in so little amounts that they are barely detectable.

That said, you would have to eat unhealthy amounts of Himalayan salt to benefit from its mineral contents. For example, eating 5 tbsp of pink salt just barely covers 6% of your daily iron needs.

Myth 3: Himalayan Salt is Lower in Sodium

Is there any truth to the claim that Himalayan salt contains less sodium that conventional table salt? Yes and no.

Since regular salt and pink salt are both around 98% sodium chloride, they have the same amount of sodium per 100g. However, pink salt does contain less sodium per tablespoon.

Because it’s less dense and has larger crystals, a spoonful of Himalayan salt will be less salt overall than a spoonful of regular salt.

But this is not enough to make a substantial difference in daily sodium intake.

The Bottom Line

As of yet, the claim that Himalayan salt is healthier than regular table salt lacks scientific evidence. This makes most of the popular Himalayan salt myths false.

Hence, a great part of the hype around Himalayan salt can be attributed to successful marketing strategies, not to actual health benefits. In some cases, the misleading marketing around pink salt even challenges legal boundaries: “In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned a manufacturer of dietary supplements, including one consisting of Himalayan salt, to discontinue marketing the products using unproven claims of health benefits” (3).

Although most nutritional claims about pink salt are generally misguided, it definitely still has its aesthetic and culinary merits. Additionally, pink salt is a popular ingredient in wellness and spa products, such as relaxing salt baths or body scrubs.

Ultimately, however, whether spending 20x more on colorful salt is worth it is for you to decide.

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(1) https://global-geography.org/af/Geography/Asia/Pakistan/Special_Information/Khewra_Salt_Mines

(2) https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/pink-himalayan-sea-salt-an-update/

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_salt#cite_note-22

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