What’s the key to lowering blood pressure naturally?
For many years, the USDA and the medical community have advised us to limit our sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day. But, the evidence is mounting that just limiting your intake of sodium will not lower your blood pressure. In fact, the key is to have the right balance of sodium and potassium in your system.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition that affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that hypertension is the cause of 51 percent of deaths due to stroke and 45 percent of deaths from heart disease.
A new study shows that just limiting salt does not control high blood pressure. This research demonstrated that the key to lowering high blood pressure naturally is to eat potassium-rich foods.
Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally: New Research
Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California found that foods rich in potassium, including many fruits and vegetables, may be key to lowering blood pressure.
Researchers studied the association between blood pressure and dietary sodium, potassium and the sodium-potassium ratio. What they discovered is that higher dietary potassium was linked to lower blood pressure, regardless of sodium intake.
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“Decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure,” Alicia McDonough, professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine, said in a press release. “But evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension.”
High potassium intake lowers blood pressure by using sodium to keep close control of potassium levels in the blood critical to normal heart, nerve and muscle function.
“When dietary potassium is high, kidneys excrete more salt and water, which increases potassium excretion,” McDonough said. “Eating a high potassium diet is like taking a diuretic.”
An earlier study came to a similar conclusion. A 2004 Institute of Medicine study recommended adults consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium a day to lower their risk of high blood pressure. Doing so also offsets to effects of dietary sodium and reduces the risk of kidney stones and bone loss.
As compared to the recommendation, diets these days often consist of processed foods with added salt that are usually low in potassium, the researchers say.
“If you eat a typical Western diet, your sodium intake is high and your potassium intake is low,” McDonough said. “This significantly increases your chances of developing high blood pressure.”
Foods to Eat for Lowering Your Blood Pressure Naturally
When we think about potassium, we typically focus on bananas. In fact, there are many foods that have more potassium than a banana.
Some high potassium foods:
- Sweet potatoes
- White potatoes
- Tomato sauce
- White & black beans
The study was published in the American Journal of Physiology.