WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s recent research revealed that eating more potassium-rich foods can prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women.
- According to the study, potassium helps loosen the arteries, regulate one’s heartbeat and blood pressure, and balance electrolytes in the body.
Around 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year. CDC statistics recorded that one person suffers a heart attack every 40 seconds, and more than one person dies from a heart disease every minute.
The three vital risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. 47% of Americans have at least one of these risk factors.
Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common heart disease in the U.S. is caused by plaque buildup in the artery wall. Plaque buildup is made up of cholesterol. It causes the arteries to narrow and blocks the flow of blood to the heart over time.
In the recent study published in the Journal of Clinic Investigations, scientists discovered that the hardening of the arteries is significantly correlated to a diet rich in potassium.
Lead researcher Paul Sanders said, “The findings have important translational potential since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low potassium intake.”
In the study, the researchers used three groups of mice giving them different levels of dietary potassium—0.3%, 0.7% and 2.1% weight/weight, respectively. All mice were subject to high-fat diets.
Results showed that mice who were given high levels of potassium had more loose arteries than the mice who were subject to a low dose of potassium.
Another researcher at the university, Yawing Chen, said “Reduced dietary potassium intake has been linked to the pathogenesis of a variety of human diseases, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. All of these disease share common vascular complications, such as vascular calcification. Vascular calcification is a risk factor that predicts adverse cardiovascular complications of several diseases including atherosclerosis.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) urges people to increase their intake of potassium-rich foods to decrease chances of getting heart diseases. Recommended intake is 3500 mg of potassium daily.
One cup of avocado has about 708.1 mg of potassium while a medium banana has 425 mg. Aside from avocados and bananas, other foods rich in potassium include spinach, sweet potato, pomegranate, acorn squash and white beans, to name a few.