ON NUTRITION: Potassium Helps Lower Blood Pressure | regain health

Half a cup of dried apricots, for example, contains more than double the amount of potassium in an average banana.

Barbara Intermill

Most people I talk to about high blood pressure say, “I know, I know. I need to reduce my salt intake. It’s correct. Few, however, are aware that potassium also plays a key role in the fight against high blood pressure.

We do not care? We should, says the American Heart Association. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke – sometimes called a heart attack in the brain – which can lead to severe disability or death.

We could prevent 80% of strokes, says the association, mainly by controlling our blood pressure. Normal blood pressure (defined as below 120/80) can also help prevent heart attacks, aneurysms and dementia as well as some kidney and eye diseases.

Potassium works to lower blood pressure in several ways, according to the National Institutes of Health. It helps keep our blood vessels flexible and open to reduce the pressure of pumped blood. Potassium also helps our body eliminate excess sodium. One of the best dietary strategies for lowering blood pressure is therefore to eat a diet high in potassium and low in sodium.

What does this diet look like? A good example is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). This diet — high in potassium from fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy — has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure.

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