Researchers have started to explore salt's previously unknown role in hunger and weight gain.
A number of recent studies shed light on why salt may entice us to overeat.
Instead, he discovered that people who eat large amounts of salt actually drink less water than those who have smaller amounts of salt in their diet.
The space flight simulation, which lasted for months, showed a stable environment for the researchers to study how salt affected them.
Throughout the study, the cosmonauts' diet did not vary except in one key way: The researchers changed their daily intake of salt in their food.
The study subjects began on a diet that entailed 12 grams of salt per day.
Researchers reduced their salt to 9 grams per day.
The cosmonauts ate 6 grams of salt daily during the final third of the study period.
What happened over the course of the study upended the researchers' expectations: The cosmonauts drank more water as their salt intake decreased.
Eating an additional gram of salt each day enhanced the risk of obesity in children by 28% and in adults by 26%. The study authors stated they don't know why salt has this effect, but other studies indicate that it may change the way our bodies burn fat.
Those children may eat more because the salt makes the food taste good, the authors says.
Another Australian study from 2016, led by Russell Keast, PhD, connected salt to an11% increase in the amount of food and calories that adults take in.
The authors say salt improves the flavor, and that likely tempts people to eat more.
Keast, a professor of food science and head of the Centre for Advanced Sensory Science at Deakin University said in an email that he believes salt encourages people to eat more.
While these studies show a link between salt and body fat, increased eating, and obesity, they don't show that salt makes any of those things happen.
More research needs to be done to fully understand salt's role.
She says research shows that cattle ranchers use salt to cut their animals' appetites and limit how much feed they eat.
In the meantime, Titze offers this advice: "If you're on a diet and trying to reduce the amount of food you eat but you always feel hungry, start thinking of salt. Perhaps reducing it may help you."
Lowering how much salt you eat can be tough, says Lauren Blake, a registered dietitian at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.
The more flavor you add, the less salt you'll need.