Health benefits of potassium23rd February 2009
According to a new study, eating a one-half ratio of sodium to potassium can halve a person's chances of dying from heart disease.
Eating a proper ratio of the two nutrients is more important than eating them in precise amounts.
People who consume high-sodium diets can improve their health by increasing potassium intake to match salt.
Paul Whelton said that potassium and sodium are like peas in a pod, and that this is the first study to show that eating the two nutrients together, more than either one by itself, can benefit people.
Due to high amounts of sodium in processed foods and in food prepared in restaurants, many people eat far too much of it, increasing their chances of dying from heart disease.
Excess sodium causes the body to retain fluids and raises blood pressure, putting the body at risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The link between heart health and potassium has also been studied, and in 1997, a study found that people taking dietary suppliments of potassium decreased their blood pressure by 3/2 mm Hg.
This is the first time that research has confirmed some scientists' suspicions that the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet is important.
Researchers used data from two large trials designed to link blood pressure, diet, and weight loss.
The trials studied the effect of dietary sodium in thousands of people over spans ranging from two and a half to three years.
Some of the people reduced their sodium intake by 35%, which gave them a reduced likelihood of heart disease.
Among those who continued to eat high sodium diets, people who ate more potassium had a slightly lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Those with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease were those who ate the lowest amounts of sodium and the highest amounts of potassium, and controlling the ratio of the two nutrients to each other turned out to be more important even than their respective amounts.
While the physical mechanism responsible for these effects is unknown, it is possible that potassium prevents the body from absorbing as much sodium.
It could also be because people who attempt to eat more potassium are bound to go for fruits and vegetables, and benefit from their fiber and antioxidants.
High-potassium foods include raisins, bananas, and oranges.
Two of the highest potassium foods are spinach and potatoes, with 950 mg per cup of spinach and 900 mg per potato.
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Title: Health benefits of potassium
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 10334
Date Added: 23rd Feb 2009