“Pass the Salt.”
“No not the sea salt, the pink Himalayan salt, it’s healthier because of extra trace minerals.”
There is a good chance you’ve been in or have heard this exact conversation before. But, is pink Himalayan salt really more beneficial for your health than table salt?
A Quick Lesson On Salt:
Salt is made up of to two elements bonded together, sodium and chloride. These two elements bonded together compose the small crystal-like structures we sprinkle on our pretzels. In the 1920s iodized salt was introduced in the United States due to the discovery of widespread iodine deficiencies. Iodine is an important mineral in the regulation of thyroid function and cell metabolism.
With cardiovascular disease and strokes being the number one and two causes of death in the United States, respectively, salt is always in the spotlight. Excessive salt intake is associated with an increased risk for hypertension. Consequently, hypertension is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular-related diseases.
Pink Himalayan salt is often advertised as a type of salt that offers protective mechanisms against the development of cardiovascular disease. In fact, I have counseled patients who believed that intake of pink Himalayan salt didn’t cause hypertension.
Both pink Himalayan salt and table salt are ~98% sodium chloride. Therefore, one does not contain less sodium content than the other. The remainder of pink Himalayan salt is made up of trace minerals.
The distinguishing pink color of Himalayan salt is due to trace minerals and impurities.
The trace minerals don’t make Himalayan salt healthier than the alternatives. Our bodies need 16 essential minerals for proper function. These 16 essential minerals can be provided by a well-balanced diet. The additional minerals listed in the salt provide no known additional health benefits. In fact, the mineral content in the salt is so minuscule you’d have to consume much more than the recommended serving to obtain any benefit. Therefore, the amount of minerals in Himalayan salt are not plentiful enough to correct nutrient deficiencies.
Is it Iodized?
No, although pink Himalayan salt may contain trace amounts of iodine, it is not considered an iodized salt.
Organic and GMO Free Labels
I’ve seen pink Himalayan salt with “Organic” and “GMO-free” listed on the labels, let me take a moment to clear up any confusion this may cause. Salt is mineral, it is not grown and therefore can’t be labeled organic. See USDA regulations for more information. Similarly, GMO-free salt is 100% an advertising scheme. Salt contains no genes and for that reason, can’t be GMO-free.
How Much Sodium do I Need and Why Do I Need it?
The sodium found in salt is important for proper body physiology:
– Fluid and electrolyte balance
– Blood pressure regulation
– Transmission of nerve impulses
– Muscle contraction
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day. However, any persons with hypertension should limit intake to 1,500 mg sodium per day.
1/4 teaspoon salt= 575 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt= 1,150 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt= 1,725 mg sodium
1 teaspoon of salt= 2300 mg sodium
Our bodies need sodium to function properly. A healthy amount of sodium intake is between 1,500-2,300 mg per day. Excessive sodium intake can lead to hypertension. Cardiovascular diseases can develop as a result of prolonged hypertension. Sodium content of salt does not differ amongst salt types. Pink Himalayan salt offers no additional health benefit compared to other salt types. Above all, a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole, fresh foods provides the greatest benefit for overall health.