News | Hypertension | April 19, 2017

USC Study Finds Potassium-Rich Diet Can Lower Blood Pressure

New study by Keck School of Medicine researcher explores effects of sodium-potassium balance as a means of controlling hypertension

USC Study Finds Potassium-Rich Diet Can Lower Blood Pressure

April 19, 2017 — Eating potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, beans, bananas and even coffee could be key to lowering blood pressure, according to Alicia McDonough, Ph.D., professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC).

“Decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure,” McDonough said, “but evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension.”

Hypertension is a global health issue that affects more than one billion people worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that hypertension is responsible for at least 51 percent of deaths due to stroke and 45 percent of deaths due to heart disease.

McDonough explored the link between blood pressure and dietary sodium, potassium and the sodium-potassium ratio in a review article published in the April 2017 issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. The review looked at population, interventional and molecular mechanism studies that investigated the effects of dietary sodium and potassium on hypertension.

McDonough’s review found several population studies demonstrating that higher dietary potassium (estimated from urinary excretion or dietary recall) was associated with lower blood pressure, regardless of sodium intake. Interventional studies with potassium supplementation also suggested that potassium provides a direct benefit.

McDonough reviewed recent studies in rodent models, from her own lab and others, to illustrate the mechanisms for potassium benefit. These studies indicated that the body does a balancing act that uses sodium to maintain close control of potassium levels in the blood, which is 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.”

Increasing dietary potassium will take a conscious effort, however. McDonough explained that our early ancestors ate primitive diets that were high in fruits, roots, vegetables, beans and grains (all higher in potassium) and very low in sodium. As a result, humans evolved to crave sodium — but not potassium. Modern diets, however, have changed drastically since then: Processed food companies add salt to satisfy our cravings, and processed foods are usually low in potassium.

“If you eat a typical Western diet,” McDonough said, “your sodium intake is high and your potassium intake is low. This significantly increases your chances of developing high blood pressure.” When dietary potassium is low, the balancing act uses sodium retention to hold onto the limited potassium, which is like eating a higher sodium diet, she said.

But how much dietary potassium should we consume? A 2004 Institute of Medicine report recommends that adults consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of dietary sodium and reduce the risks of kidney stones and bone loss, McDonough said. Eating ¾ cup of black beans, for example, will help you achieve almost 50 percent of your daily potassium goal.

McDonough recommends developing public policies to increase intake of dietary potassium from plant-based sources. She also advocates adding potassium content to nutrition labels to help raise consumers’ awareness of economical sources of potassium.

For more information: www.ajpendo.physiology.org

Related Content

Low Mortality and Stroke Risks Displayed for Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacements
News | Heart Valve Technology| October 11, 2017
An analysis of more than 1,000 minimally invasive aortic valve replacements and more than 400 additional associated...
New Evaluation Sends Low-Risk ER Chest Pain Patients Home Sooner
News | Cardiac Diagnostics| October 10, 2017
A new evaluation to determine whether emergency room patients with chest pain can go home and follow up with their...
News | Pharmaceuticals| October 04, 2017
October 4, 2017 — MyoKardia Inc.
Medtronic Announces Post-Market Study for CoreValve Evolut Pro System
News | Heart Valve Technology| October 02, 2017
Medtronic plc recently announced a new post-market clinical study to evaluate its CoreValve Evolut Pro valve in...
BioCardia Announces 12-Month Results from TRIDENT Trial of Stem Cell Delivery System
News | Stem Cell Therapies| September 26, 2017
BioCardia Inc. recently announced 12-month results from the Phase II TRIDENT clinical trial, conducted by the...
News | Vena Cava Filters| September 26, 2017
September 26, 2017 — The one-year results of the SENTRY...
Treatment of Heart Attack Patients Depends on Cancer History
News | Cardio-oncology| September 26, 2017
Treatment of heart attack patients depends on their history of cancer, according to research published recently in...
CardiAMP Heart Failure Trial Design Presented at Texas Heart Institute Symposium
News | Heart Failure| September 25, 2017
BioCardia Inc. announced the trial design for its pivotal Phase III CardiAMP Heart Failure Trial was presented during...
Biotronik Studies Demonstrate Efficacy of Minimizing Metal Burden in SFA Therapy
News | Stents Bare Metal| September 22, 2017
Physicians demonstrated that reducing metal burden in superficial femoral artery (SFA) therapy could effectively reduce...
Edwards Inspiris Resilia Valve Receives FDA Approval
News | Heart Valve Technology| September 21, 2017
Edwards Lifesciences Corp. recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Inspiris Resilia...
Overlay Init