Too much salt? This little trick can help

We all want to cut back on salt... but none of us want to make the switch to bland, lifeless, and flavorless foods.

As it turns out, you don't have to.

You can cut back on salt and love every minute of it -- and you don't have to make any sacrifices at all.

All you have to do is turn up the heat.

The key is in chili peppers. Don't worry -- if you don't like it spicy-hot, I'm not going to ask you to burn your tongue off.

It doesn't take much.

In fact, the new study finds that this little trick can work with levels so low you probably won't even taste the heat.

But it can enhance the flavor just enough to trick your brain.

That's a pretty nifty little gimmick when you consider how quickly you usually notice the lack of salt in food.

Salt, for all its faults, has the power to enhance flavors and make the blandest of dishes sing.

That's one reason why it's so tough to cut back: You WANT that flavor.

The pepper compound, called capsaicin, won't replace that flavor. But it WILL make sure that you won't miss it, tricking your taste buds into thinking your dishes are absolutely exploding with taste.

In experiments on both humans and mice, even low levels of capsaicin caused the parts of the brain that usually respond to salt to light up like a Christmas tree.

Of course, that's just what the team saw on a scan.

Sometimes, those images don't always mean a lot compared to the one test that really matters -- and that's how YOU feel.

In this case, however, it passed the real-world test with flying colors.

The people in the study who ate a meal enhanced with capsaicin also had less desire to eat salty foods.

This is just one small study, so it's hard to say for sure if this can truly work on a consistent basis out in the real world.

I imagine more studies are already in the works -- but if you like spicy foods, you can conduct a little "research" of your own by cutting back on salt and adding hot sauce or chili peppers to your dishes in its place.

If you don't like hot food, capsaicin is available as a supplement that's already known to ease inflammation, fight pain, improve your digestion, and maybe even help you lose a little weight, too.