APR 08, 2017 3:56 PM PDT

New Evidence: Potassium For Lowering Blood Pressure

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

The power of potassium goes beyond bananas and leg cramps; multiple potassium-rich foods including sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, beans, and coffee perform blood pressure-lowering activities in the body that contribute to an overall lower risk of heart disease.

University of Southern California professor Alicia McDonough, PhD reviewed the literature surrounding potassium and its potential to lower blood pressure. "Decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure," she said, "but evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension."

How is potassium involved in the relationship between dietary sodium and blood pressure? Population studies showed that dietary potassium could lower blood pressure independently of sodium intake, and interventional studies confirmed this connection by showing that potassium supplementation directly benefitted healthy blood pressure. In rodent studies though, results showed that the body uses sodium to regulate potassium levels in the blood.

"When dietary potassium is high, kidneys excrete more salt and water, which increases potassium excretion," McDonough explained. "Eating a high potassium diet is like taking a diuretic."

A typical Western diet is high in sodium and low in potassium, virtually the opposite of what our leaner, more heart healthy, and more primitive ancestors ate. McDonough’s findings from her review strongly suggest that increasing consumption of potassium-rich foods will lower blood pressure.

Now, the question that everyone is asking: how much potassium do I need to eat every day to be healthy? One study reviewed by McDonough recommended at least 4.7 grams per day. According to the study’s results, this amount of potassium has the ability to lower blood pressure, balance sodium intake, and reduce risk of kidney stones and bone loss.

High blood pressure affects billions of people across the globe, and researchers estimate that it is responsible for half of all stroke deaths and heart attack deaths.

McDonough’s review is published in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Sources: University of Southern California - Health Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 04, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Why the Effects of a Drug Depend on Who Takes It
OCT 04, 2020
Why the Effects of a Drug Depend on Who Takes It
Many drugs can have a wide range of impacts on the patients that take them; doctors often have to adjust a person's dosa ...
OCT 04, 2020
Microbiology
A Virus Can Disrupt a Carb-Consuming Gut Microbe
OCT 04, 2020
A Virus Can Disrupt a Carb-Consuming Gut Microbe
Not all viruses affect animal cells; some viruses can infect bacteria. Humans are known to carry vast numbers of microor ...
OCT 06, 2020
Immunology
COVID Triggers Abnormalities in Immune Monocytes
OCT 06, 2020
COVID Triggers Abnormalities in Immune Monocytes
University of Manchester immunologists are the first to make an interesting observation about the white blood cells of p ...
OCT 09, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Older Adults Use Cannabis for Common Health Problems
OCT 09, 2020
Older Adults Use Cannabis for Common Health Problems
Researchers from the University of California San Diego have found that older adults tend to use cannabis for medical pu ...
OCT 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Newly-Found Molecules May Treat Neurodegeneration
OCT 11, 2020
Newly-Found Molecules May Treat Neurodegeneration
The NMDA receptor is known to play a crucial role in memory, and synaptic plasticity - where neurons change, altering ne ...
OCT 21, 2020
Immunology
CNS's immune cells - Microglia are involved in the exacerbation of MS
OCT 21, 2020
CNS's immune cells - Microglia are involved in the exacerbation of MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most progressive autoimmune diseases that affect the central nervous system where ...
Loading Comments...