The Benefits of Black Salt for Optimal Health And Wellbeing
We know all about white table salt, pink Himalayan salt, and red Hawaiian salt, and their advantages. Now, it’s time to unearth the benefits of black salt – find out where black salt comes from, and assess if it will be better for you when compared to other types of salt. It is also known as Kala Namak, a literal translation of the two words black and salt. It has a Hindi name as it is predominantly sourced from the land mines of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Before we move on and find out how to use this condiment, you need to know that people with hypertension, kidney issues, and cardiovascular problems should consult with their healthcare professional before directly changing their eating habits even if it’s something as trivial as changing their salt.
What is Black Salt?
Black salt is used in various recipes and is renowned for its culinary and potential health benefits. It has a distinct purple or pinkish-gray color along with a pungent sulfurous aroma. It is usually known for its digestive properties and cooling effects and contains minerals like sodium chloride, potassium sulfate, magnesium, iron, and small amounts of sulfur compounds (1). All of these ingredients are beneficial in adding a unique, tangy, and savory flavor to your dishes.
Furthermore, it is commonly used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine and is harvested from salt mines or extracted from certain volcanic regions. The salt crystals are typically coarse and irregular in shape. The salt has a distinct pungent and sulfurous aroma, often described as similar to hard-boiled eggs due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide.
Due to its one-of-a-kind flavor profile, black salt is commonly used in Indian cuisine to enhance the taste of various dishes. It is particularly popular in chaat masala (a tangy spice blend), chutneys, pickles, and street foods. It adds a distinctive savory and umami flavor to these preparations. Its characteristic aroma and taste make it a popular choice in Indian cuisine and a sought-after ingredient in various recipes.
Types of Black Salts
Turn any dish into a gourmet-style complex-tasting sensation with the help of the five types of black salts available all over the world. Each has its unique characteristics and regional variations. Read along and find out.
1. Indian black salt – Kala namak
Kala namak is the most popular and widely recognized type of black salt. It is harvested in India and other neighboring countries like Pakistan and Nepal. It has a reddish-black or pinkish-gray color and a strong distinctive aroma that mimics the smell of hard-boiled eggs. As mentioned earlier, this type of black salt is used extensively in Indian cuisine, particularly in chaat masala, chutneys, and snacks. It adds a tangy and savory flavor to dishes and is known for its digestive properties and cooling effects.
2. Himalayan black salt – Sanchal
Sanchal, also known as Himalayan black salt, is sourced from the mountains of the Himalayas. It is formulated by mixing regular salt with Indian gooseberry (amla), harad(Terminalia chebula), bahera(Terminalia bellirica) , and other herbs and spices. The mixture is heated and then cooled, resulting in a dark black salt. It has a uniquely funky and tangy flavor to it.
3. Hawaiian black lava salt
Hawaiian black lava salt is a sea salt that is mixed with activated charcoal, which gives it a black color and a unique appearance. It is primarily sourced from the volcanic islands of Hawaii and features a slightly smoky flavor. It is often used as a finishing salt or as a decorative element in culinary presentations.
4. Bolivian rose salt
Bolivian rose salt is also known as Andean rose salt. It is a type of black salt that is sourced from the beautiful country of Bolivia. It is formed by evaporating water from underground saltwater springs. Then, the salt crystals are mixed with activated charcoal, giving it a black color and a delicate flavor. This is also often used as a finishing salt to add a touch of elegance to dishes.
5. Black salt from Cyprus
Black Salt from Cyprus is a type of artisanal salt that is made by combining sea salt with activated charcoal. It has a striking black color and a mild, savory taste. This salt is popular for its visual appeal and is often used as a decorative element or as a finishing touch on dishes.
Nutritional Value of Black Salt
Before we dive into black salt uses and benefits, it’s essential to find out its nutritional value. Please note that the nutritional value of black salt can vary depending on its source and processing. While black salt does offer some trace minerals, the amounts are generally small and may not significantly contribute to overall nutrient intake. However, here is a general overview of its nutritional composition (2).
Sodium: Black salt, like any other salt, is a significant source of sodium. However, the exact sodium content may vary depending on the specific type and brand. It is important to consume this in moderation to maintain a balanced sodium intake. In six samples of black salt, it was found that sodium was present somewhere between 0.36-0.42 grams.
Iron: It contains iron in varying amounts based on which type and brand you are buying from. In addition to that, iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. 0.1-1.01 grams was found in six different samples.
Potassium: Black salt can contain somewhere between 0.11-0.85 grams of potassium. It is yet another important mineral that helps regulate fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle contractions.
Magnesium: It may also provide some magnesium, which is involved in numerous biochemical processes in the body, including energy production, muscle and nerve function, and bone health. It is acceptable to be used in the range of 0.01-0.03 grams.
Sulfur compounds: Black salt’s distinct flavor and aroma come from sulfur compounds present in the salt. These compounds may range between 0.3-0.52 grams.
Health Benefits of Black Salt
Black salt benefits may deliver different results to different people owing to the fact that each has a different lifestyle, diet, and medical history. So, we have gathered all the benefits of black salt that will help you decide whether or not you want to give this seasoning a try.
1. Helps digestion
Black salt has traditionally been used as a digestive aid in Ayurvedic medicine. It helps stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, promoting better digestion, and reducing digestive discomfort (1).
2. Relieves heartburn, gas, and bloating
This is one of the best benefits of black salt for those having a hard time with acidity. According to Ayurveda, it helps your liver produce bile while improving the body’s soluble fat and vitamin absorption in the intestine. This significantly reduces heartburn. In addition to that black salt is known to have carminative properties, which means it can help relieve gas and bloating. It aids in the elimination of intestinal gas, thus reducing discomfort (1).
3. Balances electrolytes
Black salt contains essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, and sodium, which play a crucial role in maintaining electrolyte balance in the body (1). This is important for proper muscle and nerve function.
4. Low sodium alternative
While black salt does contain sodium, it is generally considered a healthier alternative to regular table salt. It has a lower sodium content and a distinct flavor, which means you can use less of it to achieve the same taste (3). Hence, it is great for those who have cardiovascular complications, cholesterol issues, and blood pressure problems.
5. It is rich in minerals
One of the main black salt health benefits is that it consists of a natural source of several minerals, including iron, magnesium, and sulfur (3). Iron is important for healthy red blood cell production, while magnesium is essential for various bodily functions . Furthermore, sulfur can help improve hair and skin health.
6. Cooling properties
In Ayurveda, black salt is considered cooling in nature. It is often used in summer beverages like lemonade or buttermilk to provide relief from the heat and prevent heat-related ailments.
7. Detoxifying properties
Among other black salt properties, it also has detoxifying powers and can help remove toxins from the body. However, scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited, and more research is needed to validate these assertions.
8. Skin and hair health
Black salt is sometimes used externally for skin and hair care. It is believed to help alleviate certain skin conditions like acne and dandruff due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Additionally, some claim that black salt can help improve hair texture and promote hair growth. You can make a scrub or a hair mask using any black salt and apply it on your skin and hair to reap its benefits.
Black salt can be used in a variety of ways as it is a versatile ingredient that instantly enhances the flavor of your dishes. Here are some ways you can experiment with it to fully make use of its unique taste-enhancing qualities.
Seasoning: This is one of the most common ways of using this condiment. Many people all over the world use it as a seasoning for their savory dishes. Take a pinch and sprinkle it over salads, soups, stews, curries, or roasted vegetables to add a unique tangy and savory flavor.
Chaat Masala: Black salt is a key ingredient in chaat masala, a popular Indian spice blend used in street food and snacks. You can make your own chaat masala by mixing black salt with other spices like cumin, coriander, mango powder, and black pepper. Once it’s done, you can top it on fruits, salads, yogurt, or chaat (Indian street food) recipes for a tangy and flavorful twist.
Chutneys and Pickles: Black salt can be added to chutneys and pickles to enhance their taste. It adds a distinct tangy flavor that compliments the other ingredients. Try incorporating black salt into mint chutney, tamarind chutney, or pickled vegetables for an extra punch.
Yogurt-based Dishes: Black salt can be used in raita, a yogurt-based side dish that is usually paired with rice dishes like Biryani and also with wheat-based flatbreads and lentils. It adds a tangy flavor and complements the cooling nature of yogurt. Mix black salt with yogurt and add chopped vegetables, herbs, or roasted cumin for a refreshing accompaniment to your meals.
Drinks and Mocktails: Black salt can be used to rim the glass of your favorite drinks and mocktails. Wet the rim of the glass with water or lime juice, dip it in black salt, and pour your drink into the glass. It adds a unique flavor and visual appeal to beverages like lemonade, margaritas, or fruit juices.
Side Effects of Black Salt
Black salt, like any other food ingredient, may have potential side effects or considerations to keep in mind. Here are a few points to be aware of:
Black salt, like all the other types of salt, contains sodium. Hence, consuming excessive amounts of it can contribute to high blood pressure and may increase the risk of cardiovascular issues(4). It’s important to use black salt in moderation and be mindful of your overall sodium intake from all sources.
Some people may be allergic or sensitive to specific types of salts, including black salt. If you have a known salt allergy or experience any adverse reactions after consuming black salts, such as hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing, it’s best to avoid it and seek medical advice. Once your doctor gives you a green signal, you can start using it in moderation.
3. Iodine deficiency
This is one of the biggest black salt disadvantages because, unlike other salts such as iodized table salt and pink Himalayan salt, this one does not typically contain added iodine. If you rely heavily on black salt as your primary source of salt and do not obtain sufficient iodine from other dietary sources, it may contribute to iodine deficiency in the body. And iodine is essential for thyroid function, so it’s important to ensure adequate iodine intake through iodized salt or iodine-rich foods.
4. Kidney problems
People with kidney problems or conditions that require them to limit sodium intake or manage fluid retention should consult with a healthcare professional before using black salt. Excessive sodium intake can strain the kidneys and potentially worsen fluid retention. It’s best they stay away from this condiment altogether (5).
5. Sulfur content
Black salt contains sulfur compounds, which contribute to its distinctive flavor and aroma. While sulfur is generally safe for consumption, some people may be sensitive to sulfur compounds or experience digestive discomfort when consuming foods high in sulfur. If you have a known sensitivity or experience any adverse effects, it’s advisable to avoid black salt or seek medical guidance.
The benefits of black salt may work differently on different individuals. Just because your friend lost weight by using this doesn’t mean you will also go through the same. And it’s always important to use it in moderation. Anything without moderation is an invitation to health problems. Additionally, always make sure that you maintain a balanced diet and incorporate a variety of nutrient-rich foods to promote overall health and well-being.