Himalayan Salt: Benefits, Side Effects and Facts
Himalayan salt is perhaps some of the most attractive salt on earth. It has a light translucent pink color and is often sold in crystal form. You can find Himalayan salt in a fine grind, which is easy to use in a regular saltshaker. If you buy the larger crystals you'll need a salt grinder or mill in order to measure the salt for recipes or use it as table salt.
The reason for the special color in Himalayan salt has to do with the addition of a number of different minerals present in the salt. In addition to sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, and copper are all present in trace amounts. These additional minerals transfer color to the salt, with iron creating the pleasing pink color.
The salt is harvested in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range and is essentially fossilized sea salt. Because of its taste and color appeal, it was used for currency in ancient times and it may still serve this purpose in modern days. Primarily, people from Nepal trade Himalayan salt for grain, which does not grow well or profusely in the foothills. Today, it may be more likely that the salt is sold and currency used to purchase grain.
People praise Himalayan salt for its crunch and taste, and also because the salt in crystallized form is considered pure and unrefined. Due to lack of refining, it doesn't lose its mineral content, as do other salts. It can be a bit healthier to consume, but it is still salt. While a little salt in the diet is excellent, don't forget that a little goes a long way. Too much salt can easily translate to health problems like high blood pressure and water retention.
There are a number of
companies on the Internet that sell versions of this salt, but you
will pay quite a bit for it. An 8.75-ounce (approx 250 g) box costs
about $13-15 US Dollars (USD). Even though it can be considered
expensive, this largely depends upon how much salt you use in recipes
or as table salt. The amount listed above can last for several months
for an average sized family. You can find Himalayan salt in a few
specialty stores and in a handful of natural foods stores. When it is
unavailable in your area, check the Internet for this special salt.
Himalayan Salt Benefits
What adds to the purity of the salt is the novel way in which it is extracted. Himalayan salt is entirely extracted by hand. Blasting the sites using dynamite is prohibited in these mines and hence, the salt is in the same natural state that it was thousands of years ago. Other than the purity, Himalayan salt benefits also accrue from the fact that it contains all the 84 natural minerals that are present in our body.
A look at the following benefits of Himalayan salt will help us understand why it is valued so much:
It maintains optimum water levels in the body which is very important for proper functioning of the various organs and processes.
Each cell requires a specific pH level to be maintained for it perform its functions. Himalayan salt helps to maintain this optimum pH level, especially in the brain cells.
Himalayan salt slows down aging process and hence, helps us to lead a healthy life and remain active longer.
It helps in digestion and facilitates better absorption of nutrients by the walls of the intestines.
Himalayan salt efficiently contributes to homeostasis in the body. It maintains the amounts of electrolytes and chemicals conducive for us to perform various biological functions.
It improves functions of the respiratory system and cures sinus problems by promoting overall health of the sinus.
Unlike table salt, Himalayan salt does not create excess load on our body. It is helpful for those with high blood pressure as in conjunction with water, Himalayan salt helps in regulating blood pressure.
Calcium present in Himalayan salt strengthens bones. Other than this, Himalayan salt also helps in reducing the incidence of rheumatism, arthritis and gout.
As compared to normal salt, it is reported that those who consume Himalayan salt are at a lower risk of developing kidney or gall bladder stones as compared to those who use common salt.
Other than these specific Himalayan salt benefits, the mineral repository also promotes healthy sleep patterns, reduces muscle cramps, improves health of the vascular system and also maintains optimum blood sugar levels.
Himalayan Salt Lamp - Benefits
The large number of
minerals in Himalayan salt is not the only attribute that makes it so
valuable. Himalayan salt benefits also include the fact that they add
negative ions to the environment which help neutralize the harmful
effects of positive ions that are released by the gadgets of modern
inventions, like television, refrigerators, computers and air
conditioners. Inhaling these ions can have harmful effects on our
health. Himalayan salt lamps make the use of the salt crystals that
fill the air with positive ions when they are used. The effect of
such lamps is quick as one feels relaxed and free of anxiety within
minutes of using such lamps. These lamps can be used anywhere, be it
in one's bedroom or in the office.
Other than the lamps, there are also salt candles that are commonly used during meditation, in massage rooms, natural health centers and also by certain psychiatrists due to the calming effect that they have on human beings. Such candles and lamps are also useful for those who suffer from allergies as they provide us with clean and healthy air to breathe. Himalayan salt comes in transparent, white or pink in color. Those who have used it promise by the various Himalayan pink salt benefits in cooking and therapeutic uses.
It is difficult to cite any scientific evidence of Himalayan salt benefits. However, this salt is not a modern discovery. There is evidence to show that Himalayan bath salts were used in medicinal baths and spas since early as 300 B.C. It is known as the "King Salt" as Himalayan salt was served to royalty whereas commoners used rock salt.
Himalayan Salt Side Effects
Salt in moderation is good for your health. In fact, without salt in the body, it would not be able to function both physically or mentally. Salt helps with muscle contractions, balances fluids, increases energy and helps the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. However, negative side effects can occur when excess salt is consumed, and this is true with Himalayan salt as well. Some of the side effects of excess salt consumption include:
Kidney Problems: Excess salt can cause the kidneys to work harder, as they are responsible for eliminating excess salt from the body. As a result kidney stones and other kidney diseases may develop over time.
Excess Salt in Urine: Naturally there will be more salt in the urine if the salt intake is high. In a way this is good, because it means the kidneys are able to keep up. However, it can take its toll on the kidneys, as mentioned above.
Fluid Retention: Fluid retention results when the kidneys are unable to keep up with eliminating the high amounts of salt. As the salt begins to build up, the body retains fluids in order to dilute the salt.
Excess Thirst: Excess thirst is often a sign of excess salt, as the body uses fluid for dilution.
High Blood Pressure: Excess salt can cause the blood vessels to constrict making it more difficult for the blood to flow through. This in turn causes the heart to pump harder, and it can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Osteoporosis and Weak Teeth: Taking in excess amounts of salt can cause the body to lose more calcium via the urine. As a result the body draws calcium from the bones in order to maintain a healthy level in the rest of the body. This causes the teeth and bones to become weak, and eventually osteoporosis begins to form in the bones.
Cancer: Too much salt can eat away at the stomach lining, which eventually can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.
Arthritis: There is controversy as to whether or not salt can worsen the symptoms of arthritis. But many believe that there is a connection between the two.
Cellulite and Weight Gain: While salt may not directly contribute to cellulite or excess fat cells, it does however, cause extra fluids to build up in the body. The fluids not only contribute to weight gain, but they push up against the cellulite and makes it more visible.
Brain Function: Salt is needed in order for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. But when taken in extremely high amounts it can result in poor muscle coordination and weakness in the body.