Black salt benefits and side effects

Introduction

Black Salt is a special type of volcanic rock salt that is mined and used as a raw material without any processing. It is found in different geographic locations such as trans Indu (Pakistan) India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in certain locations of the Himalayas salt ranges and widely used in South Asia. Black salt is dark violet-colored salts (due to iron), has a salty taste (due to sodium chloride), peculiar bitter taste (due to iron sulfide) and pungent-smelling (due to hydrogen sulfide) which adds flavor to cooking.

Traditionally, black salt is made after heating with charcoal and plant material such as Indian gooseberry and chebulic myrobalan (Haritaki) while nowadays it is synthetically made which looks similar to the traditional form, but it has less mineral content, therefore, black salt is irregular in shape, embedded with non-crystalline impurities with few specs of black substance.

There are three types of Black salt

  • Indian black salt (Himalayan black salt)
  • Black lava salt
  • Black ritual salt

History

Black salt has been used in sub-continent cuisines as a flavoring agent for centuries due to its wonderful therapeutic benefits, found in Sindh comes from a Chinese Buddhist traveler in the 7th century. In Ayurveda, black salt contains a rich amount of iron (sulfuret or sulfide)) which is useful for the treatment of heartburn, bloating and flatulence.

Common name

Black salt is also known as Sulemani Namak, Himalayan black salt, Bit Lobon, Kala Noon, Kala namak, Sanchal as well as Kala Lavana and Krsna (given by  Maharishi Charak, the father of Ayurvedic medicine)

Composition of Black salt

It contains 84 major and minor traces elements including sodium chloride and trace impurities of sodium sulfate, sodium bisulfate, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfide, iron sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide

Health benefits of Black salt

Black salt is known for its various health benefits however there is no or less scientific research or evidence has been conducted

1. Good for a hypersensitive person

The person who is suffering from high blood pressure (BP) can take black salt in their diet because black salt contains low sodium content (80-84 %.) in comparison to commercial iodized salt (99.78 %) (1)

2. Other benefits of Black salt

It is also used as a rejuvenator, improves eyesight, helps in digestion, softens the bowel i.e., laxatives, treatment of joint disorders and muscle cramp or spasm, cures respiratory illnesses and obesity. Moreover, black salt also used for healthy hair skin and stimulates blood circulation and all kinds of gastrointestinal problems, including both acid reflux and indigestion. However, there are no authentic scientific studies done so far (2).

Side effect of Black salt

1. Risk of fluorosis

Black salt is a nonconventional source of fluoride. It, therefore, may increase the risk of fluorosis when consumed with fluoride-containing drinking water with thus precaution should be needed before consumption (3).

2. Absence of significant amounts of iodine

Black salt contains fewer amounts of iodine which is important for the human body and prevents goiter disease (4).

3. Presence of heavy metal

Both black salt and refined salt contain tracer metals however in table salt these metal quantity below the maximum levels set by Codex while black salt may have other impurities and/or insoluble substances thus precaution should be needed before consumption (5).

Black salt vs. Pink or Himalayan salt

Black salt is a processed salt made by heating with charcoal, herb, and spices to the rock salt. On the other hand, Himalayan pink salt is a natural salt that is obtained from Himalayan salt mines. Moreover, the black salt color is violet-black and contains a sufficient amount of Sulfur which gives a pungent smell. But Himalayan pink salt is pink in color doesn’t contain sulfur and it’s odorless. However, both the salt contains mineral but black salt mainly used to enhances the flavor in food and has slightly lower sodium content than Himalayan pink salt and No studies have compared the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and black salt. Overall, more research is needed.

References

1. http://globalresearchonline.net/journalcontents/v35-2/24.pdf

2. https://www.ejpmr.com/home/abstract_id/485

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5787950/

4. http://www.thetrp.net/article.asp?issn=0973-0354;year=2013;volume=10;issue=1;spage=12;epage=14;aulast=Kalra

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3862059/

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