Himalayan Pink Sea Salt: Is it really better?

Over the better part of the last 5 years there has been an absolute mob mentality when it comes to Himalayan Pink sea salt.  Granted, it’s great for some uses like the Saltware™ shown above that we are highlighting in our Cooking With Saltware™ Series. Unfortunately, it seems that if you can get a few public figures (insert Oprah and Dr. Oz here) to sing the praises of a specific product, any product, well then it has to be as good if not better than all it’s touted to be.

Himalayan Pink is no exception.  So, when Oprah Winfrey’s and The Dr. Oz Show proclaimed the Himalayan Pink sea salt inhaler as one of 2010’s top two alternative health secrets the clamoring masses went nuts!

Why all the hype?  Himalayan Pink sea salt contains 84 different minerals and elements, more than any other  unrefined sea salt.  Dr. Oz even tells the audience that Himalayan Pink sea salt may be better for you because it has potassium in it which might be beneficial for lowering blood pressure.  So, when taking into consideration that unrefined sea salt is more desirable for cooking and for seasoning, then surely a salt with 84 different minerals and elements would always be better, hands down, right?

The short answer is no, because the simple argument above is misleading.  We often hear that the devil is in the details and that couldn’t be more true in this case.

It’s best to start by examining total mineral content by volume.  All unrefined artisanal sea salts are evaluated in this same way.  In this context, Himalayan Pink is 2.5% – 3.0% mineral content.  That’s not a lot when compared to other salts, and is in fact on the lower end of the spectrum, especially when compared to something like Sel Gris de Guérande (13% – 17% mineral content) or our Hawaiian sea salts (9% – 10% mineral content).

Even more notable is that all unrefined sea salts are essentially the same when it comes to mineral content and composition.  The primary elements that make up unrefined sea salt in addition to sodium chloride are calcium, potassium, magnesium, bromide, zinc and iron.  The rest of the specific elements come in such small quantities that they are considered secondary, additional or trace elements – typically occurring in quantities of .0001% or less by volume.

The big question is how much salt would you need to consume for those trace elements (the ones that occur in quantities of .0001% or less) to be of any real benefit to your body?  Or more importantly should you ever even consider eating salt to include those trace elements in your diet?

Again the answer is a clear and resounding NO!  The primary elements are important, because they allow the body to recognize the salt in its unrefined, natural form and then signal the proper hormone production that will facilitate renal (kidney) function.  That normal renal function will void any unwanted salt (or other electrolytes) and the resulting fluid (water uptake as a result of the thirst provoking quality of salt) from your system.

Without the proper hormone production, the salt will not be voided from your system and your blood pressure will remain elevated because your blood volume remains increased because of all the water you drank.  Ironically, this is why doctors prescribe water pills for those diagnosed with hypertension.

What then about the rest of the 75+ minerals and elements in Himalayan Pink?  The bottom line is that there is no known value or benefit.  That’s not to say that there isn’t any, just that we don’t need to get all crazy about consuming Himalayan Pink as though it is the be-all-end-all health care product for curing whatever may ail you!

And, here is where Dr. Oz really blew it.  Of course there is potassium in Himalayan Pink sea salt.  There is potassium in almost all unrefined sea salts.  Himalayan Pink sea salt doesn’t hold the corner market as the only unrefined sea salt with potassium in it.  Which way is likely to add more potassium to your system –  Eating or breathing salt?  I think we all know the answer to that question.

Once you come to grips with this reality, the rest of the argument about Himalayan Pink being better than any other sea salt boils down to culinary considerations.  Do the mineral and element variations affect the flavor profiles of the foods you prepare?  Is texture a consideration?

There is much that can be said for the benefits associated with Himalayan Pink sea salt, but we shouldn’t stop there.  Himalayan Pink is one of more than 130 different unrefined sea salts crafted or mined from around the world that all have similar health benefits – because they are unrefined.  What’s more, as we’ve discussed and demonstrated many times here through this blog, not all salts are created equal.

Many of the importers and purveyors of ‘Himalayan Pink’ pray on the gullibility and lack of salt education that currently exists in the world when ‘hocking’ their inferior wares.  On the other side of the fence are those who create the “it’s healthier for you” craze without understanding some of the basic science behind the claims they make.

For example, some claim that Himalayan Pink sea salt is bad for you because it contains fluoride.  True or not?  Talk amongst yourselves, we’ll answer in an upcoming post!