Research has shown that if Americans were to increase their intake of potassium the number of people living with high blood pressure would drop approximately 10 percent. Right now, in American, nearly half of all adults live with high blood pressure and the number of children diagnosed with high blood pressure is drastically on the rise.
The potassium and sodium connection
The effectiveness of potassium to lower blood pressure is directly related to sodium. Potassium works to balance out the sodium in your diet. An adequate potassium intake can lower systolic pressure ~4.4 mm Hg and diastolic pressure ~2.5 mm Hg.
If you want to prevent or lower blood pressure it’s very important you balance your intake of sodium and potassium. The more potassium in your diet and the lower the sodium, the better your blood pressure will be.
The typical American diet contains 3.6 grams of sodium daily. It’s recommended that sodium intake be limited to 2.3 grams or less daily (~1 teaspoon). If you already have high blood pressure you’ll want to restrict your sodium intake even further - less than 1500 mg/day.
Currently dietary guidelines recommend 4.7 grams of potassium each day. Many Americans are deficient on potassium intake with various causes of low potassium.
Sources of potassium
Some good potassium sources include bananas, potatoes, cantaloupe, dates, nuts, legumes, oranges, cantaloupe, and green leafy vegetables.
Your potassium intake is linked to your intake of fruits and vegetables. For cultures with a high intake of fruits and vegetables the risk of high blood pressure is very low, approximately one percent of the total population.
Risk of too much potassium
If you have kidney issues then too much potassium may be harmful. Also, there are diuretics that are “potassium sparing”, which means you may need to be cautious about your potassium intake. Then on the other side there are diuretics that increase potassium losses. Speak with your physician. If you take any medication, even over-the-counter, discuss with your physician prior to starting a high-potassium diet.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.