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‘SALT’ is one of the main components which adds up taste to the whole recipe. We often see that every family has different taste levels of salt content in their food. Salt plays a crucial role in maintaining good health. WHO has recommended the daily intake of sodium trough salt must be about 2 gm which sums upto 5 gm of salt per day. Salt is made up of 60% sodium and 40% of chloride. There are various salts out of which table salt is highly consumed.

There is one particular salt named ‘sendha namak’ used in India after table salt specifically during the navratri fastings. It’s commonly called the rock salt. It’s found in the himalayan region of Punjab in Pakistan. The sendha namak ranges in light blue, green  and mostly pink colour,  rock like crystals which can get diluted in the water easily. People even use rock salt in order to melt the ice around their  homes in snowy regions. Rock salt is comparatively obtained in its pure form to that of normal table salt. Did you know about 2.5% of the population still consumes rock salt in the normal diet. Sendha namak(hindi) and Saindhava Lavan(sanskrit) are extensively used in ayurvedic science. Various synonyms have been used to describe its ayurvedic properties: 

Saindhava, Sheetashiva– because it is coolant in nature

Sindhuja– because it is found in Sindh region of Punjab

Naadiya– because it is found in the banks of rivers, Manimantha

Nutritive comparison between the table salt and rock salt:

In 1 gramPink himalayan saltCommon salt
Calcium1.60.4
Magnesium (mg)2.80.9
Potassium (mg)1.061.06
Iron (mg)0.03690.0101
Sodium (mg)368381
Cost for 100 gm13720

WHY IS SENDHA NAMAK USED SPECIFICALLY WHEN THE SODIUM IS ALMOST EQUAL? 

Rock salt is a mineral form of sodium chloride which is directly extracted from the realms of Pakistan. Chunks of salt rocks are transported and sold. Though the sodium content is the same  the only reason supporting this consumption is it’s the purest form without any refinement or additives which serves the purpose. It’s rich in 84 trace minerals according to some studies.

However, some people tend to claim there are health benefits from the rock salt. According to their beliefs rock salt, impartes better taste, is good for respiratory diseases, weight loss, alkaline in nature which inturn helps to cool the system. During fasting the acidic levels increase in the stomach since there is no digestion of food taking place. The alkaline nature of the salt cools down the system till the next meal is consumed. As of now, there is no such proof of the benefits seen in people who regularly consume sendha namak.

We cannot deny this fact that except for common salt there’s no other source of iodine in our body. Unfortunately since the Himalayan rock salt is not fortified with iodine unlike the µcommon salt it isn’t of much use. 

LOW LEVELS OF IODINE IN SALT:
  • Low levels of iodine in the body could fluctuate the hormone and tend to create problems in the health.
  • Iodine deficiency is characterised by swelling in the thyroid gland in the neck. This condition is called goitre.
  • In pregnancy if the mother is low on iodine there is a chance of occurrence of mental retardation, as iodine helps in cognitive functions.
  • In most of the north states like said 2.5% of people consume rock salt they suffer the most from thyroid problems.
  • There are other  salts produced in the recent times with less sodium and more potassium in the form of potassium iodides, reimbursing the lost iodine levels in the body. 
  • Higher levels of iodine levels upto 30 ppm have been recommended to take care of their losses.
  • Awareness on the importance of iodine addition in salt must be given to the communities. 

SO WHAT’S HEALTHY TO CONSUME:

It’s not harmful to consume sendha namak once in a while or even at a stretch of nine days during the navratri fasting. On the contrary we need to understand completely depending on a non iodised salt for a very long time also could be harmful for the body.

The government banned non iodised salt in 2006, later after 6 years the banned was removed with the reason that in take of rock salt one in a while is good for the body. The daily intake of Iodine from the salt is 45 µgm/gram from 5.8 gm of common salt/ day. 

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