It's been touted as a 'superfood' that can lower blood pressure, improve circulation and detoxify the body. But is there any substance behind the hype, and is this trend really worth its salt?
What is Himalayan pink sea salt?
Himalayan Pink Salt is a salt derived from ancient sea salt deposits formed over 250 million years ago at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is believed to be the purest form of salt available, with a price tag to match.
So is it a healthier alternative to regular salt?
Proponents (and of course producers and retailers) of Himalayan salt, use descriptions such as "hand-mined", "unprocessed" and "natural" to boast it's alleged superior qualities to regular salt. In reality, the difference in chemical composition between different salts is minimal. Whilst terms such as "natural" infer health, the simple truth is that sea salt, rock salt, table salt, organic salt and Himalayan pink salt all consist of the same chemical, sodium chloride. A 2011 survey conducted by Which! magazine compared the sodium chloride content of table salt with a range of rock and sea salts, and the results showed they they all contain just as much sodium chloride as each other. However, 39% of people who buy sea salt believe it is healthier than table salt.
But doesn't it contain a load of trace minerals?
Himalayan pink salt is widely touted for its nutritional properties, with claims that it contains 84 trace minerals. Even if this is true (and the evidence is far from definitive), 98-100% of all salt, including the pink stuff, is plain old sodium chloride. The remaining 0-2%, in a sprinkling of salt, amounts to the tiniest amount of minerals; too small to confer any health benefits. Not only that but we get all of these trace minerals from other foods, in particular fruit and vegetables!
So what about the health claims?
Claims that Himalayan pink sea salt lowers blood pressure, supports weight loss, balances hormones, improves circulation, and enables the body to detox, are unfounded and not based on any actual evidence. Quite simply, they should be taken with a pinch of salt….
So, should I buy it?
Without wanting to rub salt in the wounds if you've just invested in a bag of Himalayan salt, there is no published evidence to suggest that replacing white salt with pink leads to any improvement in health. Whether its pink or white, from the sea or rocks, crystal or flakes, we should be aiming to have no more than 6g of salt (about a teaspoon) a day for good health. And don't forget that this includes the salt added into processed foods (which accounts for about 75% of the salt in our diet), not just the stuff we sprinkle on top. Evidence has shown that regularly eating too much salt puts us at increased risk of developing high blood pressure- the main cause of strokes and a major cause of heart attacks and heart disease in the UK.