Potassium Is Good for the Heart
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a claim stating that diets containing foods high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Eating daily servings of potassium-rich foods such as orange juice and bananas may be a wise move for the 50 million Americans who have high blood pressure.
"We have known that potassium is a key player in blood pressure and stroke regulation for some time, but this message hasn't reached our patients," says Lawrence Appel, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University. "So much of what people know about nutrition today comes from what they read on food labels. This new health claim will be a tremendous help in teaching people about potassium's benefits," Dr. Appel notes.
According to Dr. Appel, a modest reduction in blood pressure -- an average of just three points -- throughout the population "could potentially prevent over 15,000 deaths per year in the United States, primarily from stroke and heart disease." Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America, annually causing more than half a million deaths.
While statistics indicate that early detection and treatment of high blood pressure could prevent scores of deaths, three quarters of those with hypertension are either unaware they have the disease or are inadequately treated. Those who are committed to maintaining optimal heart health can make the easy lifestyle adjustment of eating more potassium.
So how much potassium do you need every day to help prevent cardiovascular disease? 2400 to 4800 mg, says Dr. Appel. Orange juice provides 450 mg of potassium per 8-ounce serving. Other foods rich in potassium include kiwi fruit, pineapple, dried apricots, prunes, broccoli, white and sweet potatoes, black beans and lentils.
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Read more about potassium's power.