Lowering our salt intake by just two pinches a day could prevent 13,000 heart attacks and 5,000 strokes, say researchers.
The findings come at a time of year when salt consumption in the UK peaks, with the average Christmas dinner packing nearly double the recommended daily allowance at 11g.
But manufacturers could do far more to help us by further reducing the amount in processed foods.
Although the national intake has fallen in recent years, it remains above the recommended maximum of 6g a day, with average consumption at 8.6g.
Excess salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease and stroke.
The latest research by a team of scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands found nearly 5 per cent of all heart attacks and almost 6 per cent of strokes could be prevented if there was less salt in food products such as ready meals