What’s up with Himalayan Pink Salt?

What’s up with Himalayan Pink Salt?

I admit it. Pink salt really catches my eye. I can’t help but wonder about it; why is it pink, what is it good for if anything other than looking pretty?  You can go to a bunch of websites and, if they are in the business of selling the salt, they tout it’s many health benefits. But what’s the real deal here?

I did some research on the topic, I always go for the latest and I try to get the best information I can. So why is it pink? According to Science-Based Medicine it is the rosey color because:

“Trace amounts of iron oxide lend Himalayan salt its signature ruddy pigment.”

That’s cool but so what? Does that do anything for us? The sellers of the product promise the salt contains, depending on the website, 84 to 94 minerals that “our bodies need;” however, though it may contain many minerals, they are in trace amounts. According to an article on Yahoo Health Wellness Trends, published a year ago, registered dietician Rene Ficek, lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, says:

“Although Himalayan salt contains key minerals like phosphorus, bromine, boron, and zinc, among others, Americans are not deficient in these in the first place, or we’re already consuming better sources of these nutrients elsewhere. The truth is that the amount of minerals is too miniscule to make any measurable difference, and we already consume plenty of the same nutrients from other elements of our diet — grains, vegetables, and meat. Pink salt is quite popular at the moment, but its health claims may be grossly overstated.”

Ficek continues:

“Another thing to consider is that, unlike pink salt, table salt has added iodine, which is important for thyroid function and metabolism. The government started supplementing salt with iodine in the 1920s to prevent iodine deficiency disorders. Since we don’t get much iodine from other foods (the richest natural source of it is seaweed, and it’s also found in dairy and eggs), completely shutting off regular salt can have negative side effects. That said, packaged foods and restaurant meals are generally prepared using plain salt, so unless you cook exclusively at home with the Himalayan type, you don’t have to worry.”

According to Science-Based Medicine, the mineral breakdown spectral analysis of the salt can be found here:

Spectral Analysis of Himalayan Salt

However, the many minerals in this pink salt are in extremely small amounts and, if the analysis is correct, it is worrisome because there are also poisonous minerals in the salt such as radium, uranium, thallium, and polonium. Even in trace amounts, one would not want to consume any type of poison. Futher, they claim two double-blind studies were done to validate the health benefits of this Himalayan Salt, but Science-based Medicine says:

“Even if this analysis is accurate, it is meaningless for health and if anything is worrisome. The amount of minerals in it is too minuscule to make any difference, and we already get plenty of the same trace minerals from other foods. They claim that two double-blind studies were done, but no such studies are listed in PubMed. There is no evidence published in peer-reviewed journals that replacing white salt with pink salt makes a shred of difference or leads to any improvement in health.”

For more facts about Himalayan Pink Salt, including the newly popular Pink Salt Caves used, hypothetically, to help with skins conditions such as psoriasis see:

Himalayan Pink Salt Info

So to replace your regular salt with Himalayan Pink Salt seems to be a bit hasty. Used in small amounts it might be ok.

Interestingly, when researching sleep aids, I found several websites recommending the following mixture:

5 teaspoons of organic, raw honey mixed with one teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt

All the websites suggested taking a spoonful of this mixture before bed, letting it melt under the tongue, for a great night’s sleep. Being a curious person, I have been, occasionally, trying this to see if there is any merit. Honestly, I am not really sure if it is helping. And I wonder about the long-range effects of using the salty mixture. So I cannot honestly tell you this concoction will help you sleep, nor do I know if it is safe. But I did read this about using honey on medicaldaily.com:

“Honey can be a health aid for sleepless nights. Similar to sugar, honey can cause a rise in insulin and release serotonin — a neurotransmitter that improves mood and happiness. “The body converts serotonin into melatonin, a chemical compound that regulates the length and the quality of sleep,” Rene Ficek, (same dietician as quoted above) told Medical Daily in an email. Moreover, honey also contains several amino acids, including tryptophan that is commonly associated with turkey. Honey’s steady rise in insulin, according to Dr. Matthew Brennecke, a board certified naturopathic doctor practicing at the Rocky Mountain Wellness Center in Fort Collins, Colo., told Medical Daily in an email, causes the tryptophan in honey to enter the brain, where it’s then converted into serotonin and then into melatonin, which is a sleep aid. This hormone is responsible for regulating sleep and wake cycles.”

So maybe just using honey to aid sleep isn’t a bad idea, and one tablespoon contains only 64 calories (on a more serious note honey can be toxic to babies under one year of age, according to the Mayo Clinic). For more information on the potential benefits of honey (more research needed to be done on honey) see the following websites:

Benefits of Honey

More about Honey

I intend to discuss sleep and sleep aids in a future blog, for now we will stick with that pink salt. Bottom line, this salt has not been researched enough and there is not enough medical evidence to substantiate it’s health benefits, as claimed by its multiple sellers in stores and on the Internet. For me, I think I will use it sparingly. For example, I sprinkled it on top of some toffee I recently made. It was attractive but the pink hue was barely detectable. I suspect small doses will not hurt me but it is certainly is lovely to look at if nothing else.

“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all” – Nelson Mandela