Next time your doctor says "cut back on the salt, or else" ask him one question.

Or else what?

He'll tell you how all that salt is responsible for the high blood pressure that leads to heart disease. But if you've tried to cut back on salt, then you already know how well it works -- not at all.

It's not just you.

A low-salt diet is actually scientifically proven to have little to no impact on your BP levels, and a new study confirms it: Researchers in Europe say cutting back on sodium trims just 1 percent off a healthy person's BP levels, and 3.5 percent off those of someone battling hypertension.

And in exchange for those meaningless dips in blood pressure, patients who stuck to the low-salt lifestyle saw a 7 percent surge in deadly triglycerides and a 2.5 percent overall boost in cholesterol levels.

In other words, if your BP spikes a little and your doc tells you to stick to a low-salt diet to avoid hypertension meds, he'll almost certainly end up giving you those meds anyway -- and a statin to boot.

Consider that a bonus.

If this was the first study of its kind, it would be easy to be a little skeptical -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with being skeptical. But it's not -- and it's not the second or third study either.

In fact, it's the fourth study just this year to find no benefit to a low-salt diet -- not to mention the dozens of other studies that have reached the same conclusion over the years.

If you're concerned about blood pressure, forget about salt. Cut back on sugar instead -- because the research on this has been remarkably consistent: People who consume the most sugar have the highest blood pressure levels.

That's why one of the most immediate benefits of a low-carb diet is a swift reduction in blood pressure.

Once you get the sugar out, don't focus on salt so much as your salt-to-potassium ratio. Thanks to processed foods, most people get more salt than potassium. In reality, you should get about three times as much potassium as salt.

Make those two changes, and you can hit the saltshaker to your heart's content -- and never have to worry about your BP levels again.