Debunked: eating salty snacks makes you thirsty

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Salt's a big part of our diet, and there's a common perception that eating a lot of salty snacks makes you thirsty.

But you should probably take that theory with a grain of, well, you know. Because the salt in those snacks actually makes you hungry, not thirsty.

Two studies were released in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and the research showed that as people ate more salt, they actually drank less water.

But the salt made them hungrier.

Here's how scientists break it down: Salt can start a mechanism in the kidneys to hold onto water.

That produces a process called urea, which uses a ton of energy, resulting in people feeling hungrier.

While that may be news to you, the next time you grab a drink, think about those salty bar snacks.

They're probably around to make sure you order food, not another round. Huh, so salt making you thirsty may be a misconception, but maybe there's something to that old trope about bartenders being fonts of wisdom.

Too salty dish? Here's what to do:

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How to Save an Overly Salty or Spicy Dish
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How to Save an Overly Salty or Spicy Dish

Next time you over-season your dish, don't panic -- just follow these tips.

General Cures

When faced with an over-seasoned dish, your first move should be to try to balance out the flavors. Typically, this is done by playing with sugars and acids. Try adding a squeeze of lemon or a spoonful of sugar to your dish, then taste test again and proceed from there. Depending on the dish, switch up the acid and sugar sources -- sub in vinegar for citrus, or honey in for sugar.

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Second Resort: Dilution

If you're making a soup or a curry, add water, unsalted broth, coconut milk, or cream to dilute the excess seasoning. Increasing the volume of the dish will spread out the spice or salt, and make each individual serving more palatable.

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Add Bulk

If it wouldn't make sense to add more liquid to your dish, say, if it's a salad or a pilaf, try adding more bulk to put things on an even keel. Rice, beans, or any other other neutral grain will help round out the flavor.

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If none of these methods help ease your palate, there are a few more specific cures to target your overseasoning dilemmas.

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If Your Dish is Too Spicy...Try Dairy

When it comes to spice, dairy is the best neutralizer. This is because chilis contain capsaicin, a substance which makes your tastebuds feel that fiery burn. Milk contains casein, a compound which bonds with capsaicin and helps dissipate it. Next time you want to dial back the spice level on a dish, try stirring in a few spoonfuls of yogurt or sour cream -- and next time you're dared to eat a whole jalapeño pepper, be sure to have a glass of milk handy.

Image Credit: Food52

If Your Dish is Too Spicy...Try Nut Butter

Another ingredient that can help combat spice is nut butter. Rich in fat, nut butters will mellow out the fire in your dishes -- just make sure its flavors will play well with the other ingredients. Creamy avocados can also help soothe a burning tongue.

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If Your Dish is Too Salty...Try A Potato?

Have you heard of the potato myth? It's the rumor that dropping a raw potato into an over-salted soup will "draw out" some of the salt. Sorry to break it to you, but this myth is 100% that -- a myth. Busted.

While raw potatoes do indeed draw out some of the salt from a liquid, they also absorb a proportionate amount of liquid. Sorry, spud. If you dish is too salty, and dilution isn't helping, sweetness is usually the best way to balance it out.

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All caution aside, don't be shy with your seasoning. Professional chefs say that most home cooks err on the side of caution and under-season their food. The solution, which you should adopt from here on out, is to salt as you go. This is also an excellent excuse to sneak samples of whatever you're cooking up.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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