header-banner-himalayan-salt-health-hoax.jpg
Earth First

Himalayan Pink Salt: Healthier or Hoax?

Numerous sources tout the many and varied health benefits of Himalayan Pink Salt – but is there any clout to the claims?

A miracle mineral?

Himalayan Pink Salt is touted as being much more than just your bog-standard seasoning. Whether it is used for culinary, therapeutic or cosmetic purposes, the number and variety of properties attributed to Himalayan Pink Salt seem to be endless. With its reported ability to strengthen bones and even improve circulation, Himalayan Pink salt appears to be nothing less than a miracle mineral.1,2

Unfortunately, as is true of so many things in life, anything which sounds too good to be true usually is, and this rock salt (albeit, aesthetically pleasing), appears to be no exception.

Is Himalayan pink salt more nutritious?

Despite being considered ‘pure’, Himalayan salt’s defining pink colouration is actually down to the presence of a vast number of impurities contained within the crystals.3 Whilst these minerals do add to the seasoning’s aesthetic appeal, there is little scientific evidence to support the more miraculous claims regarding its health and healing properties. Although it is fair to say that salt contains minerals essential for our wellbeing, whether Himalayan salt itself is a good source for these nutrients is somewhat less clear.

Consider, for example, zinc, an essential micronutrient found in Himalayan salt. Having a deficiency of zinc can lead to a host of symptoms including diarrhoea, alopecia, and reduced immunity. Whilst some might see that as evidence for Himalayan pink salt being a healthier alternative to your bog-standard seasoning, those facts alone are not enough to put Himalayan pink salt on the proverbial pedestal. First, we must look at the numbers…4

The recommended daily intake for zinc is 11mg for males and 8mg for females.8 Himalayan pink salt contains around just 2.38mg of zinc per kilogram of salt. Given the variety of foods which contain the mineral in much greater quantities (including beef, crab, beans, seeds and fortified breakfast cereals), there seem to be a few easier ways to hit your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) without having to consume 3kg salt per day! 3, 4, 5

What’s more, whilst many of these 80+ additional minerals are considered a necessary component of our diet, there are a few, including both lead and plutonium which, if consumed in too-greater quantity, would actually put our health at risk. Although safe in trace-quantities, it would be impossible to eat sufficient amounts of Himalayan pink salt to reap the benefits of certain constituent minerals, whilst avoiding the toxic impacts of others.3,6

Himalayan pink salt lacks iodine

With so many components to Himalayan salt, it’s hard to imagine that there is a mineral it doesn’t contain, but there is one essential nutrient which could be considered lacking. For those who opt for the cheaper, whiter crystals of conventional table salt, you might be surprised to learn that there is more to the seasoning than just sodium and chloride. In addition to a small amount of anti-caking agent, which prevents any moisture in the air interfering with the salt’s delicate crystal structure, many manufacturers will also add a small amount of iodine.7

Iodine is a dietary mineral required for the production of thyroid hormones. A deficiency, which typically presents itself as a swollen thyroid gland, known as a goitre, can have serious consequences including neurodevelopmental disorders. Although highly abundant, iodine is unevenly distributed across the globe, with soils close to the sea being rich in the mineral, but the earth’s crust – and the soils above it – being comparatively low. As a result, plants grown in land-locked areas, and the animals and humans livings off such plants, are typically low in iodine. 7,8

Despite the foods found on our shelves and plates today being sourced from a wide range of locations – thus containing a variety of minerals from a variety of soils - iodine deficiency is still surprisingly common. Globally, two billion individuals are consuming insufficient amounts of iodine every day, with over 50% of continental Europe being considered at least mildly deficient. 8

In the early 20th century many governments and health officials decided that, in an attempt to tackle the world’s most common endocrine problem, salt would be supplemented with iodine, with the minimum accepted level in order to stay healthy being touted as 30 mg of iodine per kilogram of salt. Whilst the exact amount added to table salts varies depending on the manufacturer, supplemented salts typically meet this minimum standard. In contrast, whilst iodine is one of the 84 claimed components of Himalayan pink salt, it is present in drastically lower quantities.7,9

Himalayan pink salt: Worth the hype?

Despite clocking in at around 20 times the price of conventional table salt, and arguably being somewhat more aesthetically pleasing on the plate, there is little evidence to suggest that Himalayan pink salt confers any additional benefit to your health over and above regular table salt.

Furthermore, given the recommendations by the World Health Organisation for nearly all populations across the globe to reduce their daily sodium intake, relying on salt–whether it be of the Himalayan variety, or otherwise—as a source of anything other than a touch of seasoning, is likely to do you more harm than good.10

What myths have you heard about Himalayan pink salt, and do you think they could be true – or is it just a pink placebo?

Most viewed

Earth First

Used Coffee Grounds | What To Do With Them

Annabel Slater

We drink over 2 billion cups of coffee a day. Used coffee grounds are usually incinerated or sent to…

Earth First

4 Tips To Improve Iron Absorption

Angelika Schulz, Klaus Hadwiger

Iron is an essential nutrient which is crucial for building red blood cells in the body. While it's…

Earth First

Plastic-Free Food Packaging: Where Do We Stand?

Madhura Rao

As an avid advocate for keeping groceries as plastic-free as possible, I have always wondered about…

Earth First

Why Soil Matters

Annabel Slater

Soil is a precious mixture of the living, the never-living, and the dead. It’s a vital resource…

Earth First

Nutritional Yeast: How It’s Made

Samanta Oon

Nutritional yeast are golden powdery flakes that add a whiff of nutty, cheesy umami when sprinkled…

Earth First

What Does the “Meatless” in Your Meatless Burger Really Mean?

Caleb Danziger

The world’s population is expanding, which means we need new techniques to feed ourselves…

Human Stories

When Less is More: A Portrait of No-till Farming

Dr Caroline Wood

The Green Revolution in agriculture was powered by mechanisation, but our soils are now worn out…

Earth First

Recycling Food Waste: 6 Unusual Food Waste Inventions

Annabel Slater

Food waste can contain valuable products. Across the globe, innovative scientists and designers are…

Human Stories

Why Producing More Food Doesn’t Mean Less Hunger

Lauren Lewis

Our population hit the 8 billion mark in November 2022 and is projected to top 10 billion by 2050.…

Earth First

How will a changing climate affect olive trees?

Inés Oort Alonso

One of the Mediterranean's oldest and most symbolic crops is threatened by the effects of climate…

Earth First

Shelf Life & Food Waste | The Science & Tech Behind Shelf Life

Kelly Oakes

Whether we’re in a supermarket or digging through the contents of our own fridge to make…

Earth First

COVID-19 | Impacts On Food Waste

Madhura Rao, Dr Alie de Boer

Food supply chains are complex systems with carefully orchestrated operations spread across the…

Keep updated with the latest news about your food with our newsletter

Follow Us