THE tectonic plates that underpin dietary gospel are shifting. Previously unassailable tablets of nutritional stone are rocking on their very foundations. The first mighty rumble of late was the call from top US scientists, including former members of the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, to lift the dietary guideline limits on saturated fat.

“There is no strong scientific evidence that the current population-wide upper limits on commonly consumed saturated fats in the US will prevent cardiovascular disease or reduce mortality. A continued limit on these fats is not justified.”

Mind you, the anti-sat fat paradigm was already melting away, like butter on a hot day.

Then came another major shift, with the recent publication in the European Heart Journal of a paper, whose authors include two former presidents of the American Heart Association, challenging official recommendations on salt: "These guidelines have been developed without... high-quality evidence that low sodium intake reduces cardiovascular events”.

They conclude that, contrary to all the salt restriction advice we’ve been given, “most of the world’s population consume a moderate range of dietary sodium,1-2 teaspoons of salt a day), that is not associated with increased cardiovascular risk”.

I have long been sceptical about government advice on salt consumption. Salt has been damned by public health gurus because it can raise blood pressure, which in turn can contribute to heart attacks and stroke.

Yet the evidence apparently implicating salt has long been shaky. A major 2014 review of data on salt and health concluded that we are targeting the wrong white crystals.

“Clinicians should shift focus away from salt and focus greater attention to the likely more consequential food additive: sugar.”

Drastically reducing our salt intake can even be quite risky, it seems. A major study of 100,000 people in 2015 found that those who followed lower salt intake guidelines actually had more heart trouble than those who didn’t.

I’m someone, like many others I know, all women, whose blood pressure tends to be on the low, not high side. And being Scottish, brought up on porridge prepared with salt, not sugar, seasoning with salt is just part of the cooking process for me.

A crock of grey sea salt sits beside my hob, I add the flakes or ground crystals with my fingers, and taste dishes as I prepare them to achieve the right level of saltiness. I prefer this less refined salt to the standard salt; it’s much easier to overdose with the latter, I find.

I also relish salty ingredients, such as aged Parmesan cheese, capers and anchovies. Yet such ingredients, analysed in terms of how much salt is in every 100 grams of food, provoke condemnation from old-school, anti-salt stalwarts. Flashing red lights all round.

But it seems to me that, used judiciously, they enliven other blander ingredients. I have seen no evidence to suggest that a normal level of salt used in traditional home cooking is bad for you.

But my body revolts against many types of salty ultra-processed food: Pringles, flavoured crisps, stock cubes, leave me gasping for water. Neither bacon nor cheese, despite being categorised as high salt foods, has that effect.

As it turns out, most of the salt people in the UK consume is in ultra-processed food, only 15-20% of our dietary salt intake comes from home cooking, or adding salt at the table.

Salt figures prominently in the food manufacturer’s flavour enhancing toolkit, along with sugar and synthetic flavourings. If you mainly prepare your own home-cooked food from scratch, when you taste common convenience foods, such as ready meals, they do taste surreally salty by comparison.

But I’m not convinced that seasoning your food with salt at home is anything other than a good idea. It seems to me that this natural, traditional flavour enhancer has been damned unfairly because of its association with high tech ultra-processed foods, wherein it keeps company with palate-tricking additives, and shockingly high amounts of added sugar, to manipulate our tastebuds.

I remember tasting salt-free bread in Tuscany. It was a penance to eat. I heard that this practice stemmed from a war-time shortage of salt, through necessity, not inspiration.

We’ve been using salt to preserve and season our food for centuries. It is a crucial kitchen condiment.