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
JAN 23, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 23, 2020
Yes, Stress Can Turn Your Hair Gray
Stress and gray hair have always been closely associated, and now, scientists from Harvard have discovered the physiological mechanism that validates this...
JAN 26, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 26, 2020
Free-Floating Mitochondria Found in Blood
Mitochondria are one of the specialized structures or organelles that can be found in eukaryotic cells, as well as some places outside of the cell....
JAN 25, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 25, 2020
Are You Still Working on Your New Year's Resolution?
There are a few cardinal rules when it comes to goal-setting, and you've probably heard them all before. Goals will be successful if they are specific-...
FEB 04, 2020
Health & Medicine
FEB 04, 2020
World Health Organization Outlines Strategy to Eradicate Cervical Cancer
Today—World Cancer Day—the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a draft of a global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer as a public heal...
FEB 07, 2020
Neuroscience
FEB 07, 2020
Eating Fruits and Vegetables May Lower Alzheimer's Risk
New research has found that flavonols, a large class of compounds present in many fruits and vegetables, may be linked to a lower risk of developing Alzhei...
FEB 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 10, 2020
Portable Biofactories that Can Crank Out Medicine On-Demand
A hydrogel is a water-dispersed, polymer colloid that's been popularly explored in biomedicine. A collaborative project between the University of Texas...
Loading Comments...