Potassium, in fact, should be one of the vitamins and minerals you should look for in your regular diet. Potassium is essential for heart health; a new study has revealed that consuming potassium-rich foods can help improve it. According to researchers, having a healthy amount of potassium in your system may decrease the harmful effects of overdoing salt in your diet and lower blood pressure.
In the study released in the European Heart Journal, 24,963 participants were recruited between 1993 and 1997. They ranged in age from 40 to 79 at the time, with an average of 58 years for women and 59 years for men. The research began when participants supplied information on various lifestyle choices as well as having their blood pressure recorded and urine samples analyzed for both potassium and sodium levels.
When the researchers looked at the participants again after an additional 19 and a half years, they discovered that 55% had experienced significant and even potentially fatal problems with their hearts. Those who consumed the greatest amount of potassium in their diet were 13% less likely to have cardiovascular issues than those who consumed the least amount of potassium in their systems.
“Our study findings suggest that a heart-healthy diet should include more potassium in addition to reducing salt,” stated Professor Liffert Vogt.
The link between heart health and potassium
“The findings of this research build on the body of evidence that indicates a higher potassium intake and lower sodium consumption lowers blood pressure,” says Elizabeth Ward.
Ward added, “When it comes to why a diet high in potassium helps to reduce the effects of salt and reduces blood pressure, sodium and potassium have opposing effects on blood pressure—potassium aids in lowering it while salt is known to boost it.” Ward also points out that as you consume more potassium, more sodium is excreted from your urine. In addition, potassium promotes relaxation in blood vessel walls, which may help regulate blood pressure better.
“While potassium is essential for blood pressure control and a variety of other reasons, some people need to be cautious,” adds Ward. “In individuals with kidney disease, too much potassium can be harmful.”
How to get more potassium in your diet
Dr. Ward explains that you should not “look to potassium supplements to take the place of meals,” since “the fluid and phytonutrients in high-potassium foods are likely to help contribute to better blood pressure.”
To get the most out of your diet, Ward emphasizes that “potassium is susceptible to deterioration during processing, therefore raw and minimally processed foods have the greatest potassium levels.” In light of this, keep in mind that “fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, but dairy products, fish, and beans are as well.”