Salt is an innate part of one’s diet. It is widely used as a preservative, binder and for adding flavour to our food. Not a single dish can be prepared without the use of salt though it is bad for our health. But why is it so?
Salt is chemically derived from sodium (40%) and chloride (60%), i.e. Sodium Chloride (NaCl). The human body requires a petty amount of sodium for the proper functioning of nerve impulses and muscles, and for maintaining a proper balance between water and minerals. According to a study the human body requires only 500 mg of sodium (0.5 gm) daily for proper functioning. Exceeding this amount can lead to stroke, blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in India, out of which hypertension is accountable for ⅓ rd of those deaths.
One gram of salt has 387.6 mg of sodium and on average in India, the daily intake of salt is 11 gm/day i.e. twice more than the recommended allowance of less than 5 gm daily 1.
Flowchart of the mechanism of excess sodium- 2
Salt intake for a long period of time has been linked to metabolic disorders, obesity and insulin resistance. High salt intake activates the aldose-fructokinase pathway in the liver and hypothalamus leading to the production of endogenous fructose and leptin resistance. Hence, salt intake should be monitored vitally among a variety of populations and not only among high blood pressure populations 3.
You can rectify this by changing the salt that you use.
Now comes the question, which salt must you choose, regular Table Salt that most of us use or the Himalayan pink salt?
Traditionally salt was manually collected (Figure 1) and this process was used for centuries before industrialisation. The results were obtained with the help of the sea, winds, and human efforts. Natural extracted salt is shiny and white. The salt resulting from this process preserves the richness of seawater and its composition is not only NaCl but also various other minerals that are beneficial to health like Mg, Ca, K, Fe, Zn or Mn. And its main identifier is that it is less salty to the taste 4.
Industrial salt, on the other hand, is extracted from the crystallisation of sea salt using industrial dryers. The common process to extract Table Salt from natural sea salt goes as follows-
Concentration of seawater→ Crystallisation of sodium chloride→ Collection and washing of Impurities→ Centrifugation of salt→ Addition of substances like anti-caking agents (Sodium ferrocyanide, aluminium ferrocyanide, sodium silicates)
During the process of washing, most of the minerals present in the salt are also washed off leaving behind concentrated NaCl which is further adjusted by adding chemical substances making “TABLE SALT” more harmful. 4
Himalayan Pink salt
The Pink salt from the Himalayas (Figure 2) is a rock salt (popularly known as Sindhav namak) that is mined in areas close to the Himalaya Mountains. Its pink colour comes from the presence of several minerals like Mg, K, and Ca. This salt is healthier given its amount of trace elements and that in lump form it increases energy and improves sleeping by cleaning air pollutants like dust and pollen. 4
The presence of sodium in Himalayan pink salt is less compared to table salt due to the presence of other minerals.
The winner is clear enough, when it comes to the type of salt to use always choose Colourful!!
- Johnson, C.; Santos, J. A.; Sparks, E.; Raj, T. S.; Mohan, S.; Garg, V.; Rogers, K.; Maulik, P. K.; Prabhakaran, D.; Neal, B.; Webster, J. Sources of Dietary Salt in North and South India Estimated from 24 Hour Dietary Recall. Nutrients 2019, 11 (2), 318. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11020318.
- Salt and Sodium | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/ (accessed 2021 -10 -18).
- Allison, S. J. High Salt Intake as a Driver of Obesity. Nat. Rev. Nephrol. 2018, 14 (5), 285–285. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrneph.2018.23.
- Carapeto, C.; Brum, S.; Rocha, M. J. Which Table Salt to Choose? J. Nutr. Food Sci. 2018, 08 (03). https://doi.org/10.4172/2155-9600.1000701.