Written by Victoria Laios (APD)
Many of us love adding salt to our food, to give it that extra flavour. However, we know that eating too much salt overtime can increase our risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is estimated that Australians eat an average of 2,150mg per day – with some individuals exceeding the upper limit of 2,300mg daily .
Salt intake amongst Australians is problematic. To make matters worse, there is an increased “hype” around alternatives to your conventional table salt. Himalayan sea salt is becoming increasingly popular amongst many consumers – there are claims that it is “organic”, “more natural” and “superior” to normal table salt. This article uncovers the truths behind Himalayan sea salt and will also provide helpful tips on how to reduce salt in your diet.
Himalayan sea salt – its nutrition profile and health claims
Himalayan sea salt is derived and mined from the Himalayan foothills of Pakistan .The composition is predominantly sodium chloride (95-98%) and small amounts of other minerals. It appears as pink and transparent coloured crystals, due to the presence of iron oxide.
This salt has a nutrient profile of more than 80 trace minerals – some include calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and selenium . Himalayan sea salt is considered to be an unrefined and unprocessed raw salt . There are claims that the trace minerals found in Himalayan sea salt can promote “better” health and well-being .
So based on this information, is Himalayan sea salt a healthier alternative to regular table salt?
There is NO solid evidence to support the health claims of using Himalayan salt – that it can “improve health and well-being” when replaced with normal table salt.
Himalayan sea salt has the same chemical component of sodium chloride. The quantity of trace minerals in Himalayan sea salt is so minimal – therefore, they have very little benefits on health . In fact, these trace minerals are able be obtained from the foods that we eat .
Reducing salt intake:
Salt can be enjoyed in moderation, as part of a healthy well-balanced diet. The National Heart Foundation recommends having no more than 2,300mg daily . This is the equivalent of one teaspoon.
If salt intake is a problem for you, here are some basic tips on how to reduce salt in your diet :
- Only add small amounts of salt to the cooking – avoid adding salt to the table, as you are unable to control the amount consumed.
- Use fresh herbs, spices, garlic, citrus and vinegar as flavour alternatives – these are natural ingredients which can be added to the cooking.
- Limit your intake of processed foods, sauces and condiments – around 75% of our daily salt intake comes from processed foods (e.g. deli meats, take-away foods, chips and biscuits).
- Choosing “reduced salt” or “low salt” products, condiments and sauces.
As you can see, too much salt in the diet can be detrimental to our health and well-being. Overall, there is no difference between using Himalayan and normal table salt. To reduce your risk of high blood pressure or heart disease, moderation is key – a good start would be to choose 1 – 2 salt containing foods and gradually reduce these overtime.
For more information about how to reduce blood pressure, please speak to one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians’. We can provide you with a more individual tailored approach, and assist you in finding the right diet to reduce blood pressure.
- Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). How much sodium do Australians eat? [internet page]. [updated 2015 Jun: cited 2016 Jun 14]. Available http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/salthowmuch/pages/howmuchsaltareweeating/howmuchsaltandsodium4551.aspx
- Body + Soul. Himalayan Rock Salt [internet page]. [updated 2016 Jun: cited 2016 Jun 14]. Available http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/health+foods+az/himalayan+rock+salt,32821
- Hall, H. Pass the Salt (but not that pink Himalayan stuff). Science-Based Medicine. 2014. Aug 19th. Available https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/pass-the-salt-but-not-that-pink-himalayan-stuff/
- National Heart Foundation of Australia. Salt [internet page]. [cited 2016 Jun 14]. Available http://heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/salt