Arnold Larkins has high blood pressure, so he tries to keep salt out of his diet. But it's not easy. "When I go into the supermarket, I look at the packages and I look at the sodium and if the sodium is extremely high I don't buy the food," Larkins said.
Packaged and restaurant foods are to blame for almost 80 percent of the salt in our diets, but now many foods are getting healthier after a nationwide initiative. Twenty-one food companies including Kraft, Heinz and Subway joined leaders in New York City to announce they've lowered salt in their products.
"The incremental efforts they have voluntarily made to reduce salt are going to have a big impact on public health," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Most people consume a teaspoon of salt a day. That's more than double the amount recommended. New research from the University of California San Francisco shows as many as half-a-million lives could be saved over ten years if Americans reduced salt 40-percent.
"High salt in your diet or high sodium is one of the reasons why people have high blood pressure, so for many people -- not all -- lowering sodium is really the goal you want to have to lower blood pressure and then prevent stroke, renal disease, heart attacks," said Dr. Merle Myerson with St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.
Larkins said he doesn't eat out that much so he can avoid extra salt. "I'm going to be eating this way the rest of my life. I'm not going to change that because I want to stay healthy," he said.
He tries to stick with vegetables, exercise and takes his medication to keep his blood pressure in check.
Alison Harmelin - CBS News
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