Most grocery stores offer many varieties of salt to buy: traditional salt, variations of sea salt and pink Himalayan salt. The difference between these salts is mainly where they are from and how they are processed.
For example, traditional table salt is mined from underground, while sea salt is evaporated from ocean or other salt water.
Table salt is processed so impurities are removed, but sea and Himalayan salt will have other components such as other minerals. Table salt often has anti-caking agents added to it to prevent clumping.
Himalayan salt is mined from the Himalaya mountain area of Pakistan. The reason the Himalaya salt has a pinkish color is because it has some “impurities” naturally in it like other minerals.
In fact, some websites suggest Himalayan salt has up to 84 trace minerals. This is why some websites suggest Himalayan salt is better than sea or traditional table salt.
Even though sea and Himalayan salt may contain trace amounts of minerals, they are not high enough for any significant contribution to your diet.
There is not much, if any, difference in sodium levels between the different types of salt either.
No matter what type of salt you choose, the message is still the same. Use added salt in moderation.
Does Himalayan salt have health benefits?
There is no evidence to suggest Himalayan salt has any health benefits over sea salt.
Himalayan Crystal Salt (1) references two studies analyzing any benefits from Himalayan sea salt. The website suggests using Himalayan salt can be used as a safe all natural mineral supplement.
However, the studies cited on the site are not peer reviewed studies in peer reviewed journals.
This is considered the gold standard for any research.
These limited studies have not been repeated and more research needs to be done before any health claims from using Himalayan salt can be supported.
Even though Himalayan salt has trace amounts of minerals, these amounts are so small they really wouldn’t contribute any significant amount (2).
Both sea and Himalayan salt go through less processing compared to table salt.
Table salt will have additives to prevent clumping, where as Himalayan and sea salt are less likely to contain these additives.
Sodium content of Himalayan and sea salt
Despite popular opinion, sea salt, table salt and Himalayan salt all contain about the same amount of sodium.
All salts contain about 98% sodium chloride. Himalayan salt and sea salt can be sold in larger crystal sizes compared to table salt.
So, if you are measuring out a teaspoon of salt, using larger crystals means you are using less weight of salt.
If you are using finer Himalayan or sea salt crystals, the sodium content will be very similar to regular table salt because the crystal size is the same.
Himalayan salt and sea salt may taste saltier compared to regular table salt, so you may need to use less of these salts for the same amount of flavor.
This may be some benefit for using these salts because you can use a smaller amount. However, the saltiness between Himalayan and sea salt is arguably the same.
Salt intake and health
If you use Himalayan or sea salt, they can be marketed as “healthier” options of flavoring. While they can have slightly higher mineral levels compared to table salt, the actual amount is really small.
Using pink or grey salt doesn’t mean you can use as much as you want compared to table salt just because you think it will boost your mineral intake.
Sodium is used in the body for nerve signaling, muscle contraction and fluid balance.
Current guidelines suggest limiting sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day.
However, most Americans far exceed this amount because packaged foods are high in sodium.
A 2009 study (3) looking at data from over 177,000 people suggests a high salt intake is associated with an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
A 2013 review (4) suggests lowering sodium intake can reduce risk for high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease in adults.
These studies suggest watching your sodium levels can be beneficial for heart health.
If you are trying to lower your sodium intake, focus on cutting out processed and packaged foods.
According to the CDC, 90% of sodium from Americans’ diet is coming from packaged and restaurant food.
Adding salt to foods at home only contributes about 5% of sodium intake. This suggests most people eat more packaged foods compared to home cooked food.
Switching to more homemade food can simply help you cut back on sodium.
Adding iodine to salt is an efficient way to practically eliminate iodine deficiency in the developed world.
Himalayan salt does not have as much iodine as iodized salt. Therefore, if someone is at risk for iodine deficiency, consuming iodized salt may be recommended.
Conclusion: Is Himalayan salt better than sea salt?
Both sea and Himalayan salt contain the same level of sodium. In fact, there really isn’t much difference in sodium content when compared to table salt.
What can be different for these salts is the crystal size and mineral content. Both sea and Himalayan salt can provide trace amounts of minerals.
However, the amount of minerals in these salts is quite low at about 2% or less. Therefore, they do not contribute significant amounts of minerals.
There is not substantial evidence to suggest Himalayan salt is better for you than sea salt. Both salts can be used in moderation.
Both sea and Himalayan salt are less processed compared to table salt, but they also may have lower levels of iodine.
Himalayan and sea salt may have a strong flavor than regular salt, so you can probably use less for cooking and finishing.
This may be helpful for lowering daily sodium content.