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Hypertension: Potassium Intake and High Blood Pressure

There is an inverse relationship between our potassium intake and our hypertension. Research has concluded lower high blood pressure naturallythat low potassium intake contributes to high blood pressure. In contrast, people whose potassium consumption is at or near the recommended daily intake of 4.7 grams (4,700mg) have lower blood pressure. The main sources of our potassium intake is from fruits and vegetables, which is why having a healthy balanced diet is so important.

Many of us are aware of sodium restriction to manage our condition, but it was not until the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published in 2005, drew attention to the beneficial effects of potassium that people became more aware of how the ratio of sodium to potassium intake influences our blood pressure. One of the key recommendations from these guidelines is to consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

These guidelines rekindled interest in the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH Diet).

How effective is potassium at reducing hypertension?

In a meta-analysis of 32 trials, potassium supplementation was associated with a reduction in blood pressure of 3.1/2.0 mm Hg (systolic/diastolic) overall and 4.4/2.25 mm Hg in patients with hypertension.

The benefits of potassium on blood pressure were confirmed by the Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in February 2001. Results showed that a diet containing 8.5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which provided 4,100mg of potassium, lowered blood pressure by 7.2/2.8mmHg (systolic/diastolic) in people diagnosed with hypertension, compared to a diet containing only 3.5 servings of fruits and vegetables (providing 1,700 mg of potassium).

Why we need potassium:

Potassium has a role in the synthesis of proteins and muscle tissue. Potassium also works inside every cell to maintain the pH and act as an electrolyte, which is a molecule that transmits electrical activity between cells. Heart activity depends on potassium, as does muscle contraction. Because many bodily activities are controlled by muscle activity, potassium is essential for many normal bodily functions such as digestion.

Dietary sources of potassium:

Many people in the “Western World” only consume about half of he recommended daily intake for potassium. A general improvement in our diet by adding more daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables will redress the balance.

  • Excellent sources of potassium include chard, crimini mushrooms and spinach.
  • Very good sources of potassium include fennel, kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, winter squash, blackstrap molasses, eggplant, bell pepper, cantaloupe, tomatoes, summer squash, celery, romaine, lettuce, cauliflower, turnip greens, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, kale, carrots, beets, green beans, jackfruit, prunes, and papaya.
  • Good sources of potassium include basil, grapefruit, cabbage, cucumber, leeks, garlic, onions, peas, plums, potatoes, sweet potatoes, grapes, turmeric, apricots, figs, kiwifruit, ginger root, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, avocado, banana, yam, yoghurt and goats milk. All meats, including red meat, chicken and fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, tuna and halibut are also good sources of potassium.

[important][/important]The best way of ensuring adequate potassium intake is to have a healthy balanced diet that is rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Especially if you have hypertension, having the recommended daily intake of potassium is an excellent way to lower your high blood pressure naturally.


Copyright Robert Reddin 2012

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