A study has shown that people who consume too much salt and not enough potassium are twice as likely to die from heart disease, a problem affecting nearly 1 million Americans per year.

With salt intake rising rapidly in the past few decades due to fast food consumption, Americans currently intake twice the daily limit of sodium which increases the risk of high blood pressure, according to Reuters.

Led by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the study shows potassium can neutralize the effects of sodium, after monitoring the sodium and potassium consumption of more than 12,000 people. Consuming potassium, present in many fruits and vegetables, was shown to combat the effects of high sodium usage and reduce the risk for heart complications.

The research, published in a July 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, showed the well-known fact that high sodium intake is directly related to mortality rates from any cause. However, those who consumed the recommended amount of potassium daily were almost 50 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease-related deaths.

Since the study was published, the American Heart Association recommends people limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day or less, which can be troublesome since most processed and prepared foods are loaded with sodium and devoid of potassium.

Experts also recommend that Americans eat more potassium which can be found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. The study does not mention the effectiveness of potassium supplements in place of recommended foods.