It’s not groundbreaking news that high blood pressure and diet are related. Even when you go the medical doctor route, one of the first things your doctor will suggest is lowering your salt intake to help control your blood pressure. But what else can help? Does potassium lower blood pressure? Often, one important nutritional catalyst is overlooked; and yes, it is indeed potassium.
Does Potassium Lower Blood Pressure?
Potassium has several functions in the body, aiding with the proper workings of the heart, kidneys, nerves, muscles and the digestive system. A lack of potassium can manifest itself in many ways, including high blood pressure.
Researchers have looked at the connection between high blood pressure and potassium for decades, determining that simply increasing your potassium intake while lowering your sodium intake is enough to get your blood pressure back under control.
Our friends over at NaturalNews have compiled some pretty telling statements from experts in the medical and nutritional community on the power of potassium in helping control blood pressure.
Sodium and potassium play related role in controlling fluid balance in the body. Without sufficient potassium to help the body secrete sodium, sodium builds up and exerts its harmful effects. Thus, to reduce high blood pressure most people need not only to lower sodium intake but also to increase potassium consumption. Indeed, some studies indicate that potassium intake is a stronger factor in determining blood pressure than is sodium intake. Various population studies confirm a beneficial effect on blood pressure from increases in potassium consumption.
– Off-the-Shelf Natural Health by Mark Mayell
The sudden death that can occur in fasting, anorexia nervosa, or starvation is often a result of heart failure caused by potassium deficiency. Many population studies have found links between low potassium intakes and an increased risk of high blood pressure and death from stroke. Increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods in the diet can lead to a reduction in high blood pressure. The ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet appears to play an important role in the development of high blood pressure. The typical Western diet is low in potassium relative to sodium.
– The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs by Nicola Reavley
One study conducted from St. George’s Medical School in London and published in the April 2005 issue of Hypertension, found that potassium citrate can lower blood pressure just as well as potassium chloride – which has been shown to lower blood pressure. Potassium chloride must be taken in supplement form, while potassium citrate can be attained through foods.
After comparing the blood-pressure-lowering effects of potassium chloride against the effects of potassium citrate, researchers found that each one has similarly positive effects. Adults starting at 151/93 on average found their blood pressure reduced to 140/88 while using potassium chloride, and 138/88 when taking potassium citrate.
Potassium Food Sources
Sure, you could take a potassium supplement. But, why pop a pill when you can get plenty of potassium through healthy food choices. You can get about the same potassium from one bite of a banana as you can from one 99 mg supplement. The following foods are rich in potassium. By cutting down on sodium and eating several of these foods each day, you can combat high blood pressure naturally:
- Swiss chard
- Lima beans
- Pinto beans