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What Is Himalayan Salt Good For?

Himalayan Salt’s Healthy Qualities

Himalayan Salt

A pinch of salt can go a long way in turning an average dish into an appetizing meal that family and friends will love. Salt comes in many forms, not just the white table salt many are used to.

Kosher salt, sea salt, Celtic salt and Himalayan salt are available nowadays, which is great news for avid cooks who love experimenting with flavors.

In particular, Himalayan salt is becoming popular not just because it’s said to be a very pure salt,1 but also because there’s increasing curiosity on its positive impacts to your health.

But what really makes Himalayan salt special? This article provides you with information about Himalayan salt’s uses and benefits, and how you can incorporate it into your favorite recipes today.

What Is Himalayan Salt?

Himalayan salt is a type of rock salt that's mined from the Punjab region in Pakistan, particularly in the Khewra Salt Mine.2
Ninety-eight percent of Himalayan salt is sodium chloride, while the remaining percentage accounts for trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and vanadium.3

These trace minerals are responsible for Himalayan salt’s unique taste, which is different from table salt,4 albeit the two are chemically similar.

Oftentimes, people tend to compare Himalayan salt to sea salt, probably because of the unique flavor that these deliver to food. However, there are distinct characteristics that set these two types of salt apart from each other. See what Himalayan salt has to offer versus sea salt:5

  Himalayan Salt Sea Salt
Source Himalayan salt is mined from the Khewra Salt Mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan.6 Sea salt is obtained by collecting and evaporating water from seas, oceans or saltwater lakes using a man-made pool. After the water evaporates, salt residues develop.
Texture and Taste Himalayan salt is a coarse and red to pinkish salt that tastes quite strong if tasted directly. Sea salt is coarse, but with a grayish to white color. It also has a strong taste when taken directly, although it is different from that of Himalayan salt.
Elements in the Salt Trace minerals and other elements are found in Himalayan salt. Sea salt also contains trace minerals, but there is a high risk that it has traces of heavy metals like lead. This is due to pollution that can negatively affect the quality of water in areas where the salt is mined.

What Is Himalayan Salt Good For?

Himalayan salt is often utilized in the same way as table salt; it’s used for cooking, seasoning and preserving food. What’s unique about Himalayan salt, however, is its availability as salt blocks that may be used as serving dishes, cooking surfaces and cutting boards.7

Apart from using Himalayan salt for culinary purposes, it can also be substituted for bath salts and added to relaxing salt and mineral baths that allow the skin to soak up minerals from the water.8 Plus, it can also be made into eye-catching Himalayan salt lamps and candle holders for your rooms.9

Himalayan Salt’s Health Benefits

Using Himalayan salt instead of conventional table salt is a decision that you won’t regret. For starters, Himalayan salt is less processed and does not contain additives, unlike table salt, which is heavily refined and mixed with anti-caking agents like magnesium carbonate or sodium aluminosilicate.10 Plus, Himalayan salt also has benefits that can impact your body by:11

Promoting healthy pH balance in your cells, particularly brain cells

Assisting in the development of hydroelectric energy cells in your body

Aiding the skin in healing damaged muscle and other soft tissues

Inhibiting muscle cramps

Improving bone strength

Supporting respiratory health

Boosting blood sugar health

Promoting vascular health

Promoting better sinus health

Absorbing food particles via your intestinal tract

Helping improve digestion and increasing satiety

Supporting libido

Regulating sleep

Regulating blood pressure levels (in conjunction with water)

Purifying air (when used in a salt lamp)

Aiding as a potent detoxifier when added in water, as it turns to an ionic solution that helps draw out toxins in skin and adipose tissues

There are 84 trace minerals in Himalayan salt that all offer various benefits. Here’s a rundown of five of the most important trace minerals in this salt:12

  • Sodium: The body needs it for various functions, as it helps with contracting and relaxing muscles, preventing dehydration and low blood pressure levels and sending nervous system impulses.
  • Calcium:13 It’s heralded for its capabilities in protecting heart muscles, building strong bones, gums and teeth, inhibiting the onset of kidney stones, premenstrual depression and obesity, regulating blood pressure levels and promoting a healthy alkaline pH level.
  • Magnesium: This is a vital component of the body’s biochemical processes. Magnesium also plays a role in promoting proper formation of bones and teeth, relaxing blood vessels, enhancing muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity and promoting creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or the body’s energy currency.14, 15
  • Iron: It serves in promoting immune system strength and energy production. Iron’s main function, however, lies in hemoglobin production that is an important step in oxygen transportation throughout the body.
  • Potassium: Himalayan salt contains higher amounts of potassium compared to other natural and unprocessed salts. This helps your body maintain a balanced potassium-to-salt ratio.

Maintaining the Body’s Sodium and Potassium Levels Can Make a Difference

Many experts have suggested that consuming as less salt as possible is good for your health. However, there are major drawbacks to this train of thought. While consuming too much salt is definitely dangerous for your body, there are also health risks attributed to a major decrease in salt intake.

According to a study published in the Lancet, while high-salt diets were linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations, low-salt diets were alarmingly also connected to a higher possibility for cardiovascular events like heart attacks and stroke16 and deaths in people with or without hypertension.17

Results highlighted that a daily intake of nearly 3,000 milligrams of salt was connected to optimal health. While the results of this Lancet study have been deemed controversial, you’d be pleased to know that there are other studies supporting this claim.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be concerned on maintaining optimal sodium levels alone, but in ensuring there’s a balance between the sodium and potassium levels in your body. A 2014 study in the journal Advances in Nutrition pointed out that a person’s sodium to potassium ratio was more strongly linked to blood pressure changes, as opposed to either sodium or potassium individually.18

Furthermore, researchers also discovered that this ratio can help determine if a person has a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all causes of mortality, and can be a more important risk factor for hypertension and CVD.19, 20, 21, 22 Ideally, balancing your sodium to potassium ratio involves increasing intake of potassium-rich foods while consuming moderate amounts of sodium. Examples of foods that are naturally high in potassium but low in sodium include:23

White beans

Spinach

Sweet potatoes

Broccoli

Cantaloupe

Cherry tomatoes

Blackberries

Orange

Red grapefruit

Plums

Prunes

Raisins

Bananas

Artichokes

Acorn squash

Nuts and seeds

Apricots

Avocado

Garlic

Bee pollen

How to Cook With Himalayan Salt

As mentioned earlier, Himalayan salt is great for seasoning food, from appetizers, main dishes and even some desserts. In this Simple yet Flavorful Homemade Pickle Recipe, Himalayan salt is used for two reasons — adding flavor to the vegetables and preserving them to prolong their shelf life:

Cooking With Himalayan Salt:
Simple yet Flavorful Homemade Pickle Recipe

Homemade Pickle Recipe
Ingredients:

Organic mini cucumbers, enough to fill a jar of your choice

2 tablespoons of Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt

Fresh oak or bay leaves (3 or 4 for the whole jar)

Dr. Mercola’s apple cider vinegar

Fennel, mustard seeds, pepper, garlic, coriander and/or dill

 

Procedure:

  1. Rinse your jar with boiling water to sterilize it.
  2. To make your brine, add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, the Kinetic Culture starter (if using) and enough salt so that it’s saturated (you should have salt that doesn’t dissolve).
  3. Add whichever spices you prefer into the jar.
  4. Add the cucumbers into the jar, packing them tightly.
  5. Add the fresh herbs on top (coriander and dill).
  6. Fill the rest of the jar with purified water.
  7. Cover and place the jar in the fridge for three to four days.

If you're up to the challenge, try cooking with a Himalayan salt block. Ideally, you must slowly preheat or temper the salt block carefully before cooking, especially during the first few times that it's used. Wellness Mama provides a step-by-step guide on tempering your salt block:24

  1. “Place block in the oven a low rack.
  2. Turn oven on to lowest setting (usually 170 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. Leave salt block for 30 minutes at this temperature.
  4. After 30 minutes, increase temperature by 50 degrees and leave for another 30 minutes.
  5. Repeat this process, raising 50 degrees every 30 minutes, until it reaches a temperature over 500 degrees.
  6. Turn the oven off and leave the salt block there, with the door closed, until it completely cools to room temperature.”

According to the writer, the salt block produced cracking sounds and developed visible lines during tempering, although these are normal. After tempering the salt block, heat it again either on a stove or on a grill to ensure it’s ready for cooking:

  • Heating Salt Block on the Stove
    1. Make sure the salt block is completely clean and dry and that it has been at least 24 hours since it was wet.
    2. Place the salt block over a gas burner. You can also heat it over an electric range, but place a metal ring or grate of some kind in between to allow the air to flow.
    3. Turn the heat on low and set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size, as larger blocks take longer).
    4. Increase the heat to medium and leave for another 15 to 20 minutes.
    5. Turn the heat up again to medium/high for another 10 to 15 minutes.
    6. Use a laser thermometer, if you have one, to ensure the block reaches 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, splatter a few drops of water on the salt and make sure they dance and evaporate immediately. Be careful not to touch it.
  • Heating Salt Block on a Gas or Charcoal Grill
    1. On a gas grill, start with low heat just as you would on a gas stove and work up slowly. If you’re using a charcoal grill, place all the charcoal on one side and the salt block on the other.
    2. Watch the temperature slowly to ensure it does not heat up fast.

After preheating the salt block, you’re now ready to cook meats, seafood, vegetables or eggs. Cooking on a Himalayan salt block sears the food to perfection and provides a mild and salty flavor. Here are final reminders on cooking on a Himalayan salt block:

  1. Fully heat the block before using. If the salt block isn’t hot enough, it can over-salt and undercook your food.
  2. Try using fast-cooking foods. The faster the food cooks, the better it works on a Himalayan salt block. Avoid roasting or using foods that take a long time to cook. Grass fed steak and thin cuts of meat, seafood and quick-cooking vegetables like asparagus and zucchini are good options.
  3. Avoid using oil on the block. There’s a tendency for the oil to work itself into the cracks of the salt block and turn rancid if it does not catch fire first while you’re cooking.
  4. Keep on cooking. After preheating the block, you can cook on it for several hours.

 To ensure you can use your Himalayan salt block for a prolonged period of time, care for it properly. There are two major rules for caring for your salt block: the first is to allow temperature changes to happen slowly, and second is not to place it in a dishwasher. Here’s a guide for cleaning a Himalayan salt block:

  1. Allow it to cool naturally and completely after cooking. Before cleaning, the salt block must be completely cool.
  2. Do not use soap and use as little water as possible. Fortunately, salt is naturally anti-bacterial and easy to clean. Using as little water as you can is crucial because high amounts of water can wear away the block and take away a tiny layer of salt.
  3. Use a scouring pad or sponge to scrub down the block and remove any food residue.
  4. Do a final wipe with a clean and slightly wet sponge.
  5. Take a clean towel and towel dry the block. Allow it to air-dry for 24 hours before using again.

With its many purposes, all-important benefits and lack of additives and artificial ingredients, Himalayan salt is clearly a notch above other types of salt sold nowadays. Even better, studies have highlighted the importance of adding sodium sources such as Himalayan salt to your diet, because of its capabilities in enhancing your well-being.

Do remember, however, that for Himalayan salt to work its magic, you must consume it in moderation alongside potassium-rich foods. Despite Himalayan salt’s unique characteristics, it isn’t the only key for improving health and lowering risk for diseases.

Consuming a real and whole food diet and increasing physical activity remain to be the major factors that can help you achieve these goals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Himalayan Salt

Q: Is Himalayan salt iodized?

A: Iodized salt refers to table salt containing a small amount of potassium iodide or sodium iodide. This type of salt aims to supply the body with iodine, which plays a role in proper function of the thyroid gland.25

Unfortunately, iodized salt is oftentimes unhealthy and not a naturally occurring rock or crystal salt. Rather, according to the Global Healing Center, it is a manufactured type of salt that simply contains added iodide.26 Meanwhile, iodine naturally occurs in Himalayan salt, along with 84 other trace minerals, so there is very little reason for companies to use chemical processes to add more of it.27

Q: How do you use Himalayan salt?

A: Himalayan salt is commonly used to cook, season or preserve food. Plus, if you manage to buy Himalayan salt blocks, these can be used as cooking surfaces, cutting boards or serving platters. Himalayan salt may also be utilized as bath salts for a relaxing bath, or made into Himalayan salt lamps and candle holders that can add character to a room.28

 Q: Where can you buy Himalayan salt?

A: You can buy Himalayan salt at groceries, health stores and online shops. It’s essential that you purchase Himalayan crystal salt, which is considered the gold standard, because it has these characteristics:

Highest grade of natural salt

Crystal salt maintains a perfect crystalline structure when checked under an electron microscope

Mined by hand and then hand-washed

Immune to electromagnetic fields

Sources from pure areas without environmental pollutants

Doesn’t have limited shelf life and doesn’t require silica packets to prevent clumping

If you want to buy high-quality Himalayan salt blocks, you can buy from a trusted brand or a dealer with excellent and direct contacts to the source.29


References:


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