Written by Dena Schmidt
(NaturalHealth365) Stunning research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham is showing that the consumption of enough potassium – an essential mineral – can actually reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, we already know (from other studies) that potassium can improve kidney health, brain function, blood sugar regulation and muscle strength.
Thankfully, most people can easily access two delicious foods – loaded with potassium. (Do you know which ones they are?)
Answer: bananas and avocados! (naturally, organic varieties would be best)
Researchers found that a deficiency of dietary potassium led to aortic stiffness and calcified arteries. However, ideal levels of potassium resulted in improved markers related to heart health and a protective effect against heart disease.
Reduce the risk of heart disease by improving arterial health
The researchers also gained insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie how low and high potassium levels affect our health. Hopefully, this information will spark the development of non-toxic nutritional therapies in the future – which can effectively address nutrient deficiencies related to heart disease risk. (No doubt, doctors would be wise to embrace the healing power of nutrition)
The researchers approached the study from three perspectives: by feeding groups of mice varying levels of potassium in their daily diet, looking at mouse artery cross-sections, and examining smooth vascular muscle cells in mice exposed to varying potassium levels.
By looking at both living mice and molecular processes in a culture medium, the researchers were able to find a causative link between low dietary potassium, heart disease and the underlying pathogenic mechanism.
Potassium rich foods help maintain ideal blood pressure and electrolyte balance
Low levels of potassium were undeniably linked with increased vascular calcification. The low-potassium mice also showed increased aortal stiffness. By contrast, higher amounts of potassium improved health in these areas as well as overall cardiovascular health. These results were also reflected at the molecular level.
Potassium is an electrolyte that offsets sodium’s effects in the body, helping to regulate blood pressure. Potassium also helps to maintain an ideal acid and base balance in the body.
It’s important to realize that low potassium has already been linked with cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Of course, another cardiovascular disease risk factor would be the overconsumption of processed sodium (i.e. table salt). This research simply emphasizes the importance of getting enough potassium – on a daily basis.
Favor potassium-rich foods for protection against heart disease
A 2011 study headed by Quanhe Yang, PhD and published in JAMA showed persons who consumed around 4,069 mg potassium daily had a nearly 5 percent reduced risk of dying from ischemic heart disease compared with persons consuming 1,000 mg of potassium per day.
Some of the symptoms of low potassium levels include fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, tingling, numbness, nausea/vomiting, constipation, heart palpitations and unquenchable thirst.
Since we know that bananas and avocados are rich in potassium, eating these fruits regularly will help to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque filled, stiff arteries) and other factors that contribute to heart disease. By the way, other foods that are rich in potassium include: beans, tomatoes, potatoes and dark leafy greens.
You can enjoy these foods on their own or mixed into your favorite smoothie, breakfast cereal and salads. So, enjoy your heart healthy lifestyle – starting today.
Sources for this article include:
Originally posted @ Natural Health 365