Worried about your risk for stroke? Then bring on the bananas. New research shows that getting more potassium in your diet from sources such as bananas may reduce your risk of stroke - and keep your heart healthy too.
More Potassium to Reduce the Risk of Stroke?
Researchers did a meta-analysis where the pooled the results of 11 studies looking at dietary potassium and the risk of stroke. They looked at information on almost 250,000 men and women using food-frequency questionnaires to determine how much potassium the participants ate each day.
The results? They found that those who got at least 1.64 grams of dietary potassium daily reduced their risk of stroke by 24% and lowered their risk of heart disease as well.
This would be the equivalent of eating two medium-sized bananas each day.
Why Does More Dietary Potassium Reduce the Risk of Stroke?
There are several ways potassium reduces the risk of stroke. Potassium offsets some of the negative effects of sodium on the heart and blood vessels. It also helps to lower blood pressure, which has an impact on stroke risk. In addition, potassium is important for regulating the heartbeat and reducing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms that are linked with stroke.
The Best Sources of Potassium
Bananas are a well-known potassium-rich food, but tomatoes, Swiss chard, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes and beets are excellent sources too. If you get five servings of fruits and vegetables, you’ve got your potassium for the day covered. Unfortunately, not everyone does. Too many Americans eat packaged foods that are high in sodium and low in potassium. No wonder the rate of hypertension is so high in this country.
More Potassium to Lower Stroke Risk: The Bottom Line?
If you can’t fit in five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, eat a banana in the morning and another one in the evening to make sure you’re getting at least 1.64 grams of potassium each day. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure. If you’re taking blood pressure medication or have a history of kidney failure, talk to your doctor before eating too many potassium-rich foods. Otherwise, enjoy the health benefits of a potassium-rich diet.