Is Himalayan Pink Salt Healthy or Just Hype?

Himalayan pink salt, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

In This Article
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Despite the "Himalayan" in its name, Himalayan pink salt is found primarily in Pakistan. It's a form of salt that is sought after for its lovely pink hue and is marketed as a healthier substitute for table salt.

In truth, while Himalayan pink salt may have trace higher amounts of certain important nutrients, such as magnesium, it doesn't contain enough to make an impact. Nutritionally, this pretty salt is extremely similar to regular salt.

While many people tout Himalayan sea salt's health benefits, including lower sodium levels and a greater variety of important minerals and elements compared with conventional table salt, there's little evidence that these health claims have any merit.

Background

Himalayan pink salt is mined in the Salt Range mountains in the remote Punjab region of Pakistan, south of Islamabad. It's a form of rock salt that gets its pinkish color from impurities contained within the salt. Himalayan pink salt has been mined for hundreds of years, since at least the 1200s, and historically has been used for food preparation and food preservation.

The trace minerals in Himalayan pink salt give the salt its pink tinge, which can range from a subtle pink color to a much more varied, vibrant pink. Finely ground pink salt appears lighter in its pinkish color than the coarse version of it you'd put in a salt grinder.

At times, Himalayan pink salt has been marketed as Jurassic Sea Salt, but it was formed much earlier than the Jurassic period. Plus, it is found in the mountains, not in the sea.

Nutrition Facts

Despite many unsupported health claims about Himalayan pink salt, it is chemically similar to regular table salt, which is sodium chloride (NaCl). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that regular table salt has 581mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon. Himalayan pink salt has 388mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon.

This disparity is because pink salt is less dense than regular table salt—owing to its generally coarser grind. When compared by weight, the two are actually equivalent in sodium content.

Himalayan pink salt does contain extra minerals and elements that regular table salt does not. For example, Himalayan pink salt contains trace amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. However, the overall amounts are very low.

Himalayan pink salt does not contain sufficient quantities of calcium, potassium, and magnesium to make any kind of difference to your health.

In fact, most nutritional labels for various brands of Himalayan pink salt state on their Nutrition Facts labels that a serving of the salt contains 0% of the daily value for those nutrients. This is a little misleading because the salt does contain a tiny bit of all three. But because one serving of the salt (a 1/4 teaspoon or so) contains less than 1% of any of these minerals, the label must state that the content is zero.

One ounce of Himalayan pink salt (around 4.6 teaspoons of salt) does contain around 6% of the recommended daily intake for iron. However, that's an unhealthy amount of salt to eat just to get a little bit of iron. Some manufacturers claim Himalayan pink salt has dozens of trace minerals, but there's little independent research to back that up.

Benefits

Just because Himalayan pink salt doesn't pack any special nutritional boost does not mean you should avoid it. It is perfectly healthy to use as a substitute for conventional table salt—just be aware that marketing claims promising mineral nirvana are unfounded. Still, many people choose this salt simply because of its fun pink color, which is a fine reason to buy it.

How to Use Pink Salt

Since Himalayan pink salt is nutritionally nearly the same as table salt, you can use it in cooking and other food preparation the same way you use table salt. It's possible to purchase finely ground pink salt, which you can use in any salt shaker. However, many people prefer the coarser grind. Coarser salt can be used as part of a rub for meat, to sprinkle over vegetables as they are being sauteed, or in a decorative salt grinder.

It's important to watch your consumption of salt. Too much sodium may contribute to high blood pressure, which, in turn, may be a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health concerns. The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. On average, Americans consume about 3,700 mg of sodium per day.

If your registered dietitian nutritionist or doctor has recommended decreasing your sodium intake, consider an alternative to salt called potassium chloride. It has the same flavor, but no sodium. Additionally, seek out salt-free seasonings to flavor your meals.

A Word From Verywell

There's plenty of hype surrounding the supposed extraordinary health benefits of different types of salt, but little medical science to back it up. Himalayan pink salt does offer a visually appealing color, and some people say it adds a bolder, more interesting taste to foods. Your best bet is to use Himalayan pink salt as an unusual addition to your dishes and your salt shaker, and plan to get your essential nutrients in other ways.

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Article Sources
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  1. Salt, table, iodized. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2020.

  2. Himalayan pink salt. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2020.