It's like a scene out of "The Fugitive."
A convicted killer has spent years on the run, wrongly accused of murder -- but the "killer" in this case isn't Harrison Ford's (or David Janssen's) Dr. Richard Kimble.
Salt has been called every name in the book and labeled Public Health Enemy Number One for its supposed role in heart disease and an early death.
Some places are even working on laws against this stuff (I'm looking at you, New York).
But now, a growing body of evidence finds that salt is wrongly accused -- and a new review of the research shows that cutting back on sodium will neither prevent heart disease nor save lives.
Maybe we'd better start looking for the one-armed man instead!
British researchers looked at seven studies with a combined 6,489 volunteers and found that people who made moderate cuts to their salt intake were no less likely to suffer heart problems than those who didn't.
The lower-salt crowd didn't live longer either, according to the study published by The Cochrane Review.
The researchers did find slight reductions in blood pressure -- but really, what good is that if it's not matched by reduction in the risk of death and disease? All it really proves is that minor changes in blood pressure aren't nearly as important as your doctor has been telling you.
Instead of worrying about salt, worry about your salt-to-potassium ratio -- because the balance between the two is far more crucial than either one is on its own.
In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers examined the dietary habits of more than 12,000 American adults and found that those with the highest ratio of salt to potassium had a 50 percent higher chance of death during the 15-year study period than those who got more potassium than salt.
As I've mentioned before, the human body needs about three times as much potassium as salt. Thanks to the high salt and low nutrition in processed foods, however, most people get up to five times as much salt as potassium.
The simplest way to get back on track is to eat a diet of fresh foods instead of the processed foods that are practically made of salt.
Don't be afraid of salt as a seasoning -- but if your diet is lacking in potassium, replace at least some with a potassium- based salt substitute.
Just don't replace all of it -- because you can have your salt and eat it too.