A study published today in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension showed that up to 500,000 Americans wouldn't die prematurely if they consumed slightly less salt every day.

The study explored the effect of reducing salt intake over a decade to close to 40% less than what the participants originally had in their diet on a typical day. By extrapolating numbers they showed that close to half a million Americans could cut their risk of dying from heart disease and hypertension significantly by reducing salt intake .

"It certainly confirms the enormous potential value in reducing the consumption of sodium," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The study was made more concrete because three groups of researchers using different methods all came to the same conclusion.

The majority of salt that people consumer isn't found in the shaker on your table. But rather, most salt that people have in their diets comes from processed foods such as breads, cold cuts, chicken, soups and sandwiches especially packaged and processed food products.

Many companies have recently reduced the amount of salt that they use in their food products.

Mayor Bloomberg, in New York City, also announced today that 21 food companies and restaurants had reduced the amount of salt that they use in their products. This was voluntarily done as part of the National Salt Reduction Initiative.