Himalayan rock salt is also known as pink rock salt because of its distinctive pale pink color. Mined in Pakistan, Himalayan rock salt is a naturally occurring salt rich in a number of minerals. Himalayan salt can be harvested as large blocks, such as for cooking slabs or making rock salt lamps, or it can be crushed into medium and small pieces. It can also be ground up at home in a salt grinder to use in cooking, much like regular sea salt.
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High Mineral Content
According to Dr. Helen Smith of the Auckland Holistic Center, the high mineral content of Himalayan salt is why many people assume it has numerous health benefits. As well, Dr. Smith states a natural salt such as Himalayan compares favorably to table salt, which is treated with chemicals and anti-caking agents. Along with sodium, Himalayan salt has high quantities of phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, bromine, zirconium and iodine. All of these minerals occur naturally, so the mineral content is available in rock salt format as well as with the smaller grains of Himalayan salt.
A Natural Source of Sodium
As a natural salt, Himalayan rock salt is high in sodium, which is essential for your body to function properly. In addition to regulating blood volume and pressure, sodium helps your nerves transmit information, is used in muscle contractions and is required for numerous heart functions. While sodium is available naturally in many foods, it is most commonly ingested as added salt in the American diet. The daily recommended upper limit for sodium is 2,300 milligrams for healthy adults, and 1,500 milligrams for those who have a history of heart disease, are over 51 or who are African American.
Dangers of Too Much Sodium
The majority of Americans get too much sodium in their diets, so eating too much Himalayan salt can be dangerous for your health, despite its high mineral content. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to a host of health complications, including congestive heart failure, osteoporosis, kidney disease and high blood pressure. According to Colorado State University, sodium is present in large quantities in processed foods and preservatives, and is often added liberally at the dining table to season food.
Using It in Cooking
Himalayan rock salt can be used in cooking either in whole pieces or ground up for more delicate seasoning. Because of their larger size, Himalayan rock salt pieces are best added whole to soups, stews and sauces where the high liquid content lets them dissolve easily. Himalayan rock salt can also be ground with a mortar and pestle or a salt grinder to create smaller sized grains. To keep your sodium consumption in check, measure out the amount of salt you use. A one-quarter teaspoon of salt has 500 milligrams of sodium per serving.