A new study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that reducing salt intake by 50 percent per person could prevent 100,000 premature deaths a year in the United States.

That might seem like a big salt restriction. But considering you only need a couple hundred milligrams of salt a day to live, and the fact that the average American consumes 3,600 milligrams per day, maybe a 50 percent cut wouldn't be that bad.

According to the study, decreased salt intake was linked with a decrease in systolic blood pressure. Lower blood pressure means fewer heart attacks and strokes.

Like pretty much every problem in the world, this one can be blamed on the food industry. According to the researchers, 80 percent of salt that Americans eat comes from processed foods. Seriously, even a can of string beans has about 600 milligrams of salt.

Eating all those processed foods could be why 80 percent of Americans are now destined to die early.

And speaking of salt, here's a bear holding salt and pepper shakers! That'll get those depressing stats out of your head.

[Image via ABC News]