- High blood pressure is a killer….we all know that
- Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure….we all know that
And because we know these things, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…
…and to start eating this…
And they aren’t happy about it……….but maybe there is another way.
Maybe, instead of labeling salt as a BAD FOOD, and banning it from our diets altogether, we can balance out the hypertensive effect of sodium with the hypotensive effect of potassium. If only we had some proof…
Earlier this year, researchers found that “the ratio of sodium-to-potassium was a much stronger predictor of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone”.
“There isn’t as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In this study, researchers determined average sodium and potassium intake of their test subjects.
They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial.
The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease.
- The highest salt consumers were 20% more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease when compared to the lowest of the low sodium eaters.
20% more likely to suffer a stroke. That sounds great…time to ditch that salt shaker…..right? Maybe not…
- The participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio in urine were 50 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios.
According to this study, the ratio of potassium to sodium in your diet is more important to the health of your heart than the overall consumption of sodium.
According to Dr. Whelton, healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt.
NOTE: More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.
What does this mean to you?
Odds are that you are part of the majority whose sodium : potassium ratio is out of whack.
- How much potassium do you need to help balance out the salt?
To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake.
Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half this amount.
- And how do we get more potassium?
- Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
- Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice.
- Potassium also is available in supplements. However, most potassium supplements come in dosages of 50mg . To get your daily 5 grams, you would need to take 100 pills.
So, maybe we should listen to the good doctor and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” –
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