Salt is just sodium chloride, and it's all the same, right? You use it to add flavor to your food, and keep your body's sodium levels from going too low or too high, and that's it, right?
That may be true of highly processed table salt, but as with most other foods, salt varies widely in terms of purity, quality and micronutrient content. According to many natural foods advocates, the purest and highest quality salt you can find is Himalayan crystal salt.
Himalayan salt, which is often pink in color, has its origins 200 million years ago in crystallized beds of sea salt. When the Himalayan mountain range formed, these former seabeds were covered with glaciers that later protected the salt from pollution. Himalayan salt has been called the purest on earth.
Sheltered for millions of years
This unique purity is part of what causes many people to prefer Himalayan salt even to sea salt. Since Himalayan salt originated in the oceans, it contains many of the same micronutrients as sea salt. But because it has been insulated from the ongoing pollution of the oceans, and because it is less processed than salt extracted from the ocean, it is less contaminated, and may contain higher levels of trace nutrients.
In fact, some sources claim that Himalayan salt contains all 84 trace nutrients required by the human body. Believers in energetic healing say that the unique crystalline structure of the salt stores vibrational energy, which can then be transferred to human cells and promote health.
Certainly Himalayan salt is a far better choice than normal table salt, which has been treated with chemicals including bleach, that strip away all the minerals except for sodium chloride. It then typically has synthetic iodine and anti-caking agents added to it, both of which make it harder for the body to absorb the nutrients therein.
Indeed, some natural health advocates believe that the negative health effects widely attributed to salt may actually stem from the highly processed salt that most people consume. The correlations seen in those studies are also probably skewed by the fact that so much salt is found in processed food, and therefore the people with the highest salt intake tend to be those who eat the most processed foods and the least whole foods, fruits and vegetables.
Eat it, cook on it or bathe in it!
Advocates of Himalayan salt say that it has been shown to have a wide range of health benefits, including promoting vascular and respiratory health, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation, stabilizing the pH of cells, improving hydration, preventing muscle cramps, strengthening bones, promoting healthy sleep, slowing the effects of aging and even boosting libido. Consumption of Himalayan salt may also help remove heavy metals from the body.
Himalayan salt can be used to replace normal salt in any recipe, and can be ground as finely as needed. If purchased in large slabs, it can also provide unique cooking benefits. These thick salt slabs can be heated up and used as excellent cooking surfaces that distribute heat very evenly. They can be used to sear vegetables or meat, or even fry eggs. The slabs can also be used as flavor-enhancing serving platters – chilled for foods eaten cold, or even frozen for cold dishes like ice cream. Because salt is naturally antimicrobial, the slab only needs to be rinsed or scrubbed after use, not disinfected.
Himalayan salt is also prized for its air purifying effects, and can also be bought in the form of crystal rock lamps. It makes an excellent bath salt, and is said to contain more than 80 skin-nourishing minerals. Bathing in Himalayan salt is said to soothe muscle aches and stimulate healthy circulation.
Himalayan salt can usually be purchased at health food stores. It is also available online
Sources for this article include: