We all know the importance of cutting back on salt in order to keep our blood pressure under control. It’s not always easy though, especially when eating processed or fast foods. There is a way to counteract the effect of too much salt, however, and it’s by eating more potassium-rich foods.
The European Society of Cardiology conducted a study of about 25,000 men and women over 20 years. They tested the potassium and sodium levels in their blood as well as taking their blood pressure. They found that, especially for women, by consuming more potassium per day, they were able to lower their blood pressure even when they had a high sodium diet. For every additional gram of potassium they took in every day, they lowered their systolic blood pressure by 2.4mmHg. Following up after 20 years, they found that for both men and women, those with the highest potassium intake had a 13% lower risk of cardiovascular events causing death or hospitalization compared to those with the lowest potassium diets.
Potassium helps your kidneys get rid of sodium in your blood by excreting it through your urine, thus helping keep your blood pressure down. High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US and worldwide. The recommended daily amount of potassium per day is at least 3500 mg per day, with an optimum level of 4700 mg daily. There are many potassium rich foods you can add to your diet, including:
Cantaloupe, 1,474 mg per melon
Coconut water, 600mg per cup
Beans, 421 mg per 1/2 cup
Lentils, 731 mg per cup
Potato, 500 mg
Spinach, 839 mg per cup
One of the best ways to cut back on salt and maximize potassium is by eating whole, unprocessed plant-based foods because they’re naturally low in salt and rich in potassium.