For years, people have eaten salty food with a cool beverage nearby, operating under the assumption that eating salt makes us thirsty. But a new study challenges that idea, revealing instead that eating salt makes us want to eat, not drink.

The findings explain why people tend to compulsively eat items like chips and popcorn. One bite of a salty food creates a craving for more of that food, the research discovered. The scientists believe that salt consumption triggers the kidneys to retain water while producing urea. This process takes energy, which leads to an increase in hunger instead of thirst.

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