MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new study out today confirms what we’ve known for some time, Americans need to put down the salt shaker.

New research from the University of California San Francisco shows as many as half a million lives could be saved over 10 years if Americans reduced salt by 40 percent.

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Most people consume a teaspoon of salt a day, that’s more than double the recommended amount.

“Lowering sodium is really the goal,” said Dr. Merle Myerson of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. “You want to have lower blood pressure and then prevent stroke, renal disease, heart attacks.”

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Packaged and restaurant foods are to blame for almost 80 percent of the salt in our diets.

But now, many foods are getting healthier.

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Twenty-one companies including Kraft, Heinz and Subway joined leaders in New York City Monday to announce they’ve lowered salt in their products.