Image adapted from nate steiner, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0You’ve been so good about watching your salt intake. Using the sesame seed shaker on your grilled fish, making dried herb blends for your marinades and opting for the low-sodium shoyu sauce. Yes, you’ve been on board with countless other Americans in the quest for a low-sodium intake as a means to stave off high blood pressure and heart disease.

But recent research has dropped a huge bomb on the low-salt theory: Researchers found that high salt intake did not increase an individual’s chance of increased blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. In fact, they found the opposite — those following low-salt diets had the highest incidence of CVD-related deaths. What does it all mean?

The study published in the Journal of American Medical Association just last month has gotten both medical professionals and consumers in a huffy. For the last half century, doctors have been telling us to reduce our salt intake. Doing so will reduce our risks for developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Yet researchers in JAMA looked at about 4,000 people over the course of eight years, and they found no significant changes in diastolic blood pressure from high salt consumption. And the perhaps most radical finding of all, those consuming the least amounts of salt actually suffered from the highest rates of cardiovascular diseases.

Needless to say, there are numerous critics of the study. Among the drawbacks to the study are a small study group, a relatively young study group and a lack of control for urine sampling (the method of testing salt intake in the research).

This is clearly just the beginning of a heated debate about the pros and cons of salt consumption. Whether you are ready to plunge into the debates or merely keep a look out from the sidelines, one thing is certain: All studies should be taken with a grain of salt.

Image adapted from nate steiner, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0