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Natural Sources of Potassium Can Lower High Blood Pressure

New research out of Tennessee supports previous findings that potassium can lower high blood pressure. Most adults have too much sodium in their diet, which raises blood pressure and netting of potassium. Potassium is abundant in everyday fruits and vegetables.

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By now most people are aware that excess sodium in the diet can raise blood pressure in people middle-aged and older. What people don't realize is that another electrolyte, potassium, can help to lower blood pressure.

Although the merits of potassium and magnesium have been well documented by the DASH diet, new research from Nashville, Tennessee, corroborates that boosting levels of potassium in the diet may lower a person's risk of developing high blood pressure and may decrease blood pressure in people who already have "hypertension."

The typical American diet contains about double the sodium and half the potassium that is currently recommended in dietary guidelines.
    Houston and Harper, Researchers

Healthy Beans
One does not need to take potassium supplementation. The body does a good job of regulating what it needs. An ideal source of potassium lies in practically all of the varieties of beans.
The study was completed by Dr. Mark C. Houston, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Dr. Karen J. Harper from Harper Medical Communications, Inc. in Nashville.

In isolated societies consuming diets low in sodium and high in fruits and vegetables, which have and therefore high levels of potassium, hypertension affects only 1% of the population, they note. In contrast, in industrialized societies, where people consume diets high in processed foods and large amounts of dietary sodium 1 in 3 persons have hypertension.

The typical American diet contains about double the sodium and half the potassium that is currently recommended in dietary guidelines. Low potassium intake is thought to contribute to the prevalence of high blood pressure in Americans.
Based on their review of published studies on the topic, Houston and Harper say if Americans were to boost their potassium intake, the number of adults with known high blood pressure could fall by more than 10%. In 2006, the American Heart Association issued new guidelines calling for Americans to get 4.7 grams per day of potassium.

"An increase in potassium with a decrease in sodium is probably the most important dietary choice (after weight loss) that should be implemented to reduce cardiovascular disease," Houston and Harper contend.

Some studies also show that diets containing at least 500 to 1,000 milligrams magnesium daily and more than 800 milligrams of calcium daily may help lower blood pressure and the risk of developing high blood pressure. "A high intake of these minerals through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables may improve blood pressure levels and reduce coronary heart disease and stroke," Houston and Harper conclude.

Natural Sources of Potassium

One need not take potassium supplements, it is readily available in the diet. Many people think of bananas when they think of potassium, and for good reason. One medium banana packs 450 mg. But potatoes actually top bananas in potassium content: a medium baked potato with skin has 750 mg. Other ideal sources of potassium are: avocado, yogurt, black beans, lentils, lima beans kidney beans, pinto beans, cooked spinach, swiss chard, oranges, winter squash, artichoke and skim milk.

According to health author, Nicolas Perricone, in his book, The Perricone Promise , "Beans are a good source of potassium which may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. More than 80% of American adults don not consume the daily value of potassium (3,500 mg) and just half a cup of cooked dry beans contains as much as 480 mg with very little sodium."

Posted: 08/03/2008

Source: Journal of Clinical Hypertension

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