Known by various local names in India - “Namak” in Hindi, “Mithum” in Gujarati, “Uppu” in all South Indian languages, salt is that quintessential ingredient which infuses flavour in numerous Indian dishes, be it dals, soups or sambar. Quite simply, salt is integral to desi cuisine and something that we can’t imagine food, or life, without.
Although the finely powdered table salt is what is widely used in everyday cooking, a more pure, crystalline form also exists – “Sendha Namak” or rock salt, which is hugely underrated but offers myriad benefits for overall health.
Being inherently rich in minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, copper and potassium, these off-white to pinkish hardened pebbles possess laxative properties to aid in digestion, besides decongestive traits to relieve cough, cold and respiratory problems. Also Read: Zinc: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiency And Toxicity
How Is Sendha Namak Made? And Where Is It Formed?
Mined in the foothills of the Himalayas, sendha namak, commonly termed rock salt, is found in plentiful concentrations, particularly in the Salt Range mountains of the Indo-Gangetic plains. This is situated in the Sindh region of the Northern Indian state of Punjab.
It is tagged with several other names in English - Himalayan salt, halite, Himalayan rock salt, polyhalite and Himalayan crystal salt. Chiefly containing sodium chloride, the vernacular names of this popular seasoning include “Sendha Namak” in Hindi, “Saindhava Lavana” in Sanskrit and Telugu, “Shende Lon” in Marathi and “Indhu Uppu” in Tamil.
In India, vast reserves of raw rock salt deposits are unearthed in the water bodies like inland seas, enclosed bays and branching estuaries, in the semi-arid valley areas of the Himalayas. They are obtained by evaporation processes, displaying a clear transparent, pale white or light pink colour depending upon the mineral impurities present in them.
Sendha namak is, undoubtedly, the purest type of rock salt in India. It is not chemically processed like table salt, does not have iodine and is hence, sold commercially in small quantities, being quite expensive. Moreover, table salt is crushed to a fine powder, whereas sendha namak has a granular texture, as huge, rough crystals, with a less saline taste.
Portraying an impressive nutrition profile, with fantastic merits for both, physical and mental health, sendha namak is indeed a blessing for wellbeing. Read on, to know more.
Sendha Namak Nutritional Facts:
Loaded with a multitude of beneficial components, such as 84 of the 92 naturally occurring minerals, sendha namak is a highly nutrient-dense ingredient.
Besides predominantly being made up of sodium chloride, it also houses a plethora of vital minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, sulphur, hydrogen, oxygen and cobalt.
These key constituents perform a range of body functions like improving metabolism, maintaining electrolyte balance, ensuring normal blood circulation, strengthening bones, muscles, besides smooth nerve signalling between organs, tissues. This guarantees good health and averts a host of common illnesses and deficiency diseases.
Even though sendha namak is largely utilised in curing meats and preserving ice creams, it offers fabulous benefits when consumed internally with food, as well as when applied externally on skin and hair. Rock salt also holds intrinsically cooling, calming and cleansing properties, which tremendously promote deep sleep, elevate brain functions, enrich complexion and supply long, silky tresses. Also Read: 7 Incredible Hair Growth Tips For Healthy, Long And Lustrous Tresses
When consumed in minor amounts, sendha namak does not result in puffiness, unlike synthetically manufactured iodised table salt, making it a healthy substitute in cooking as well.
Wellness Incentives Of Sendha Namak:
Sendha namak is prized for its high laxative properties, which aid in regular bowel movements post consumption of heavy meals, oily and sugary foods. It stimulates assimilation of particles, nutrients from ingested food and effectively flushes out wastes and unwanted remnants from the stomach, intestines, for optimal gut health.
Treats Sore Throat
Gargling with a blend of warm water and rock salt is a time-tested home remedy for instantly curing sore throat. Renowned for its decongestant properties, sendha namak rectifies common cold, cough and clears blocks in the sinus, nasal and throat passages. It also mends instances of tonsils, fever and respiratory illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, to resolve breathing difficulties and enhance lung power.
Incorporating moderate proportions of rock salt in the diet significantly improves water and mineral absorption within the system. This assures high levels of intake of essential nutrients by the body, to increase energy supply for all vital activities and thereby maintain healthy body weight, better fat breakdown mechanisms and improved metabolism.
Supplies Clear Skin
Simply adding a pinch of rock salt to your body soaps and face washes helps in removing dirt, grime, impurities present in the pores on skin. This, in turn, prevents oiliness, reduces acne outbursts, refreshes the face, rejuvenates and enriches the deeper layers of skin, to reveal a vibrant, flawless complexion.
Consuming a bit of rock salt in soups or salads, or even taking a bath in warm water imbued with the crystals, instantly augments nervous system functions, activates the brain and relaxes the mind. This assists in lowering stress levels, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, in addition to ensuring deep, undisturbed sleep at night.
Sendha namak is truly a nourishing flavouring agent, for use in cooking, in addition to a natural skin and hair care ingredient for topical application. Laden with crucial minerals and body cooling traits, it is an all-rounder to rectify a host of ailments.
Consult with a doctor, nutritionist before completely replacing iodised table salt with sendha namak or rock salt in diet, for the latter does not contain iodine and is hence not recommended for those with iodine deficiency. Ideally, using a combination of both table salt and sendha namak works as a natural remedy for minor health problems, besides providing immense benefits for physical fitness and mental wellness.