Most people know that too much salt (sodium) in your diet can lead to high blood pressure but many people are unaware of the similar blood pressure dangers with low levels of potassium. Several studies like the Dallas Heart, NHANES III and DASH Studies have linked low potassium levels with high blood pressure.
Diets rich in potassium and low in sodium may reduce your risk for high blood pressure and help control your blood pressure. Since potassium and sodium work opposite each other in the body, a diet rich in potassium will cause the body to eliminate sodium and water. If potassium levels are low, the body will retain water and sodium causing a rise in blood pressure. The daily recomended intake of potassium is 4,700 mg/day (athletes may require even more). (Caution -Too much potassium may be harmful, especially in older people. Do not take any potassium supplements without discussing it with your healthcare provider first.)
Most adults do not get enough potassium in their diets. While sodium is added to many processed foods, potassium is not. Foods that are good sources of potassium include: kidney beans, baked potato with the skin, cooked spinach, plain non-fat yogurt, salmon, bananas, orange juice, black beans, peaches, nectarines, asparagus, non-fat milk, turkey, and broccoli.
For information on the DASH Diet visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf
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