Salt has long been associated with a higher risk of hypertension1 and reduction in sodium intake has been shown to lower blood pressure for some individuals.2 Dietary guidelines for healthy salt intake recommend less than 2300 mg (< 1 tsp) per day.3 In recent years “healthy” alternatives to white table salt (sodium chloride) have been sought, including sea salt and Himalayan salt.4
Pink Himalayan salt is extracted from a salt mine in the Himalayas. It goes through very little processing and is marketed as a more natural product. It is predominantly sodium chloride, like table salt. But because there is little processing, it also contains mineral and trace elements not found in table salt. Pink Himalayan salt may contain slightly less sodium chloride than table salt which is processed to achieve closer to 100% sodium chloride.
Sea salt may also have lower sodium content than table salt. One analysis examined six distinct sea salts collected from the US, India, and Korea and determined the concentration of other minerals within each sample.5 Magnesium concentrations varied from 0.0010% to 1.673% and calcium concentrations varied from 0.0441% to 0.1885%. This demonstrates the variability of salts that go through less processing than table salt. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium have been shown in some observational studies to be associated with lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, so the variation in their concentration in different salts may impact on blood pressure, but more study is needed.6,7
Any salt that is more finely ground will contain more sodium per teaspoon than coarsely ground salt, and this should be considered when estimating how much salt is being consumed. The sodium content is what is known to be most important when you are trying to control your blood pressure, and this information should be available on the nutrition label.
- Elijovich F, Weinberger MH, Anderson CAM, et al. Salt sensitivity of blood pressure: A scientific statement from the american heart association. Hypertension. 2016;68(3):e7-e46. doi:10.1161/HYP.0000000000000047
- Graudal N, Hubeck-Graudal T, Jürgens G, McCarron DA. The significance of duration and amount of sodium reduction intervention in normotensive and hypertensive individuals: a meta-analysis. Adv Nutr. 2015;6(2):169-177. doi:10.3945/an.114.007708
- 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans - health.gov. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/. Accessed December 23, 2019.
- Broadway PR, Behrends JM, Schilling MW. Effect of alternative salt use on broiler breast meat yields, tenderness, flavor, and sodium concentration. Poult Sci. 2011;90(12):2869-2873. doi:10.3382/ps.2011-01601
- Kim H, Jeon Y, Lee WB, et al. Feasibility of Quantitative Analysis of Magnesium and Calcium in Edible Salts Using a Simple Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Device. Appl Spectrosc. 2019;73(10):1172-1182. doi:10.1177/0003702819861552
- Beyer FR, Dickinson HO, Nicolson DJ, Ford GA, Mason J. Combined calcium, magnesium and potassium supplementation for the management of primary hypertension in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(3):CD004805. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004805.pub2
- Houston MC, Harper KJ. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension. J Clin Hypertension. 2008;10(7):3-11. doi:10.1111/j.1751-7176.2008.08575.x