Salt mined in Maras, Peru, just north of Cusco, has always been popular among the Andean people, but markets as far away as Switzerland, Japan and the Philippines are now demanding the special mineral.

Local legends tell of the way the tears of Ayar Cachi formed the 4,500 saltwater ponds when he discovered that his brother would be named founder of the Incan Empire instead of him. The pale pink salt has been used for six centuries by villagers of Maras and Pinchingoto, and is now used by local Peruvian chefs because of its flavor, according to Living in Peru. Communities in the United Kingdom ordered 3,000 tons of salt from Peru last winter to meet rising grit demands on highways, according to the BBC.

The salt not only bolsters the Peruvian economy, but it also has some unique health benefits. It contains magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc, which can help conditions such as stress, anemia and osteoporosis.

Machu Picchu Travel Tip: Don’t pay $8.99 or higher for Peruvian-mined salt in the U.S.; pick some up in Cusco’s local markets for less than $1 when you travel to Machu Picchu with IE!

For the latest travel trends and exciting discoveries, visit our Travel News section.