Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

  • High blood pressure is a killer.
  • Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure.

Because of these two facts, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…

salty snacks Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

…and to start eating this…

celery Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

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…

The 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.

Study Results

  • 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.

Yikes….20% more likely to suffer a stroke. Better 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.

NOTE: That doesn’t mean you should go crazy with the double bacon cheeseburgers.

  • 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.
  • More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.

So, it’s probably safe to assume that you are part of the majority.

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.

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”Hippocrates

Click here for the USDA’s list of foods high in Potassium.

Reference

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

13 Comments

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  5. wahyoe

    March 31, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Potassium is very beneficial when used in accordance with the dose

  6. High Blood Pressure Foods

    November 17, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Eating healthy food rich in vitamins and minerals and increasing the amounts of green leafy vegetables and fruits while decreasing consumption of fatty red meats can be helpful. Smoking and alcohol abuse also contribute to a rise in blood pressure and have to be shunned in order to achieve quicker results.

  7. Andrew

    May 29, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I can’t remember exactly where I read it, possibly a USDA site or maybe it was the Dietary Guidelines for Americans report, anyway it was saying that the salt shaker accounts for a surprisingly small percentage of our salt consumption. Rather it is hidden salt content in all sorts of processed foods that bumps our sodium consumption up without us even realizing.

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  9. colsnews

    May 25, 2009 at 8:58 am

    thanks for the tips! I’ll be visiting regularly as I plan to post once a week on my blog about health food tips/steering away from processed foods. i’m http://colinlieu.wordpress.com/ keep up the good work!

  10. Mesothelioma Awareness

    May 23, 2009 at 4:35 am

    I am high salt consumer. I cannot help myself. Actually I do not enjoy the taste of food unless I mix more salt. In my studies I found that I sensed salt normal when I used anti-allergy tablet at night. I cannot use the tablet in the morning because it brings sleep.

  11. Steve Parker, M.D.

    May 20, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    duh… I mention 40-80 mEq above, but neglected to write “40-80 mEq of potassium.” My brain got ahead of my fingers.

    -Steve

  12. Steve Parker, M.D.

    May 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I read recently at UpToDate.com that supplementing the diet with 40-80 mEq (not mg) daily tends to lower blood pressure somewhat, but the effect is lost in people on a low-salt diet.

    Higher dietary potassium would tend to shift the urinary sodium/potassium ratio in the direction recommended in your post.

    It’s a complicated subject, and there’s plenty of debate about whether it’s a good idea for everybody to reduce salt intake to 2.3 grams/day. Here are some contrarian viewpoints:

    http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab004022.html

    http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/hold-the-salt/?emc=eta1

    -Steve

  13. DR

    May 25, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for dropping by Colin

    BTW – nice legs!

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