According to new research, diets high in potassium may reduce heart disease risk regardless of sodium intake

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Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, contributing to approximately 700,000 deaths annually, it is critical that we take cardiovascular health seriously. Thank God, new research from European Society of Cardiology I found that getting more potassium in our diets may do wonders to stave off this common health condition, especially for women.

Photo recipe: Avocado Stuffed Salmon

what did they find

This study looked at data on the concentration of sodium and potassium in urine samples taken from 11,267 men and 13,696 women with average ages of 59 and 58, respectively. These samples were used to estimate the relative intake of sodium and potassium. The researchers also assessed systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading that measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats), and participants filled out lifestyle questionnaires that would take into account things like alcohol intake, smoking, medications, and more. Heart attack or stroke over four years. The researchers then divided the participants into three classes: low, medium and high potassium intakes. In addition, the researchers studied the results of median follow-up for nearly 20 years and found that 55% of participants were either hospitalized or died of cardiovascular events in that period.

Researchers found that for women, the more potassium in the diet, the lower their blood pressure, regardless of the form of sodium intake. It is noteworthy that these results were not completely reciprocal in the men studied. However, all study participants (women and men) with the highest potassium intake had a 13% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of their sodium levels.

what does that mean

This finding can help us shift our focus to what we should be adding to our diets, rather than just focusing on eliminating certain foods that we consider “bad” for heart health. While that’s not a license to toss salt at every meal, it’s good to know that we can enjoy all foods in moderation when we focus more on getting plenty of potassium-rich foods, like avocado, salmon, white beans, and potatoes, on our plates.

“It is known that higher salt consumption is associated with higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes,” said study author Liffert Vogt, MD, of the University of Amsterdam Medical Centers in the Netherlands. ScienceDaily press release. “Health advice focused on reducing salt intake but this is difficult to achieve when our diets include processed foods. Potassium helps the body excrete more sodium in the urine. In our study, dietary potassium was linked to the greatest health gains in women.”

bottom line

Vogt also mentioned in the study that their findings suggest that a heart-healthy diet should be about more than just limiting salt. You should include increasing your potassium intake as well. It is recommended to give priority to fresh, whole foods that are rich in potassium and low in salt.

It is important to note that the study structure was based on gender-matched subjects, so a more diverse study group and more research are needed to substantiate the findings to a broader conclusion. But the good news is that some of our favorite foods are rich in potassium, which makes increasing your intake easy and delicious. The main sources of potassium include salmon, avocados, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, and bananas.

In addition to protecting your heart from cardiovascular disease, increasing your potassium intake can help your body better metabolize carbohydrates, support healthy skeletal and muscle systems, improve mental clarity, and even help prevent osteoporosis. You may find that headaches, low energy levels, and muscle cramps after exercise go away after you increase your intake as well. Check out our 24 favorite potassium-rich recipes to start improving your health ASAP.

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