September 11, 2020
Kala Namak is a Hindi word that translates to Black Salt. It is mined from the halite deposits of the North Indian salt lake close to the Himalayan ranges. Thus, it is also known as Himalayan Black Salt, Indian Black Salt or Kala Loon.
Originally, these salts are pink in colour. When they are processed, their raw components are heated at 900°C in a kiln for 24 hours. During this heating process, small quantities of Indian gooseberry, Egyptian Acacia, soda ash, leaves and seeds of a few herbal plant species are also added. When the salt melts, it is allowed to cool and settle. This entire process gives them the characteristic black color. However, the color of this salt can range from gray to purple. Once processed, it is left with a rich content of minerals and compounds like sodium chloride, ferrous sulphate, magnesia, sodium sulphate, greigite, hydrogen sulphide, etc.
Kala Namak is most commonly used as a spice in various cooking recipes. The savory smell (due to hydrogen sulphide) of this salt and the salty content due to sodium chloride adds a great value of delicacy to the dish being prepared. It is a common condiment in dishes like chaats, chutneys, salads, etc. Compared to the table salt, Kala Namak has a fractionally low content of sodium but a relatively high content of potassium, calcium and magnesium. But table salt is more beneficial when it comes to iodine content.
The Indian branch of alternative medicine called the Ayurveda recommends black salt for a variety of medical conditions. It finds its main usage in conditions associated with the gastrointestinal system. These include flatulence, acidity, loss of appetite, bloating, heartburn and abdominal distension. Black salt neutralizes the acid in the stomach and the intestine. It also promotes the formation of bile juice in liver which helps in the digestion of food. In order to make digestion more effective, a combination of black salt mixed in lemon water is often recommended. Due to its varied effects on the gastrointestinal system, it is also said to help in patients of obesity.
As mentioned before, black salt contains traces of iron from various compounds in its composition. It is thus helpful to patients with anaemia, a condition where deficiency of red blood cells has a direct effect in oxygen transport within the body. This condition is often caused due to a deficiency of iron and thus black salt can be useful to these individuals.
Kala Namak can be beneficial to individuals with a high blood pressure. It is a natural blood thinner and hence can help regulate blood pressure. However, patients with blood pressure should not ingest more than 3.75 grams of this salt per day. A person without any abnormalities of blood pressure can consume it 6 grams per day.
Medical evidence on te health benefits of black salt is still not authoritative. There are several claims about its varied usage but not much is proved otherwise. For example, the rich mineral content is likely to strengthen hair follicles, thereby reducing the chances of hair fall and dandruff. The presence of potassium in Kala Namak is also said to help those suffering from muscle cramps and joint pain.
As far as dentistry is concerned, Kala Namak needs to be extremely judiciously. It is used as an ingredient in toothpastes. However, since Kala Namak is rich in minerals, it also contains a lot of fluoride. Fluoride is mandatory to provide the needed strength to the teeth but excess of it can result in a condition called Fluorosis. This manifests as white or brown spots on the surface of the teeth which can result in an unaesthetic smile. At a more severe stage, fluorosis ca affect the bones, skin and inner linings of vital organs. It is recommended to consume 2-3mg of fluoride per day.
Kala Namak if added in proper proportions in toothpastes can have a beneficial effect. Apart from its ability to cleanse the surface of the enamel, it also drops the acidic level of the oral cavity, thereby making it impossible for certain species of bacteria to thrive. An increased content of Kala Namak in toothpastes might also result in abrasion of the surface of teeth.
Thus, Kala Namak, a condiment whose medical and dental usages are often questioned, is likely to have any major adverse effect on us unless it is consumed in abnormal amounts. Better yet, it is certainly going to enhance the taste of your favourite dish!