A new meta-analysis of several population studies has found that increasing dietary potassium may help with supporting healthier blood pressure levels. Researchers looked at the link between blood pressure and dietary potassium, sodium and the ratio between potassium and sodium.
Researchers found that the higher the dietary potassium, measured from dietary recall and urinary excretion, the lower the participants blood pressure no matter how much sodium was ingested. Other interventional studies with potassium supplementation showed a direct benefit of potassium and blood pressure reductions. Researchers also reviewed recent animal studies that showed the body’s ability to balance sodium and potassium levels in the blood. This is critical for nerve and muscle function as well as normal cardiovascular function.
Decreasing sodium intake has always been the way to reduce blood pressure, but new evidence suggests increasing potassium may be as important in reducing hypertension. When potassium intake is high the kidneys excrete more water and salt which in turn increases potassium excretion concluded researchers. Currently many modern diets consist of a lot of processed foods with added sodium unlike the diets of our early ancestors which were higher in potassium and very low in sodium. This dietary shift has increased the risks of developing hypertension. Hypertension affects over a billion people worldwide and it is estimated that high blood pressure is responsible for a least 51% of the deaths caused by strokes and 45% of the deaths caused by heart disease.
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