Doctors have long been aware of the impact of excess sodium on heart health. (Check out our blog post with 5 easy tips on reducing dietary sodium.) Now, researchers are calling attention to potassium after a study finding that the combination of high sodium and low potassium is associated with a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
Why is Potassium Important?
When too much sodium is in the bloodstream, it pulls water into blood vessels. This increases the volume of blood in the vessels, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and, in turn, heart attack and stroke.
Potassium lessens the harmful effects of sodium and helps to lower blood pressure. In a study of nearly 11,000 healthy adults, researchers found a 31% lower risk of heart attack and stroke in those with the highest potassium levels, compared to those with the lowest levels.
In addition, participants with the highest levels of sodium in the blood were 60% more likely to have a cardiovascular event than people with the lowest levels.
Foods That Are High in Potassium
Generally, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables will help regulate your sodium and potassium. If you’re concerned about potassium levels, consider eating these foods more regularly:
- Sweet potatoes
The American Heart Association says that average adults should aim for 4,700 mg of potassium per day. However, you should always talk to your doctor to understand your specific needs.
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