Potassium-Rich Foods Lower Stroke and Death Risk In Postmenopausal Women, Study


Consuming foods rich in potassium lowers stroke and early death risk in postmenopausal women, according to a study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Previous studies highlighted the importance of potassium in lowering blood pressure. But, its role in preventing stroke and death wasn't clear.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women eat at least 4,700 mg of potassium daily.

Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, study senior author and distinguished university professor emerita, department of epidemiology and population health, said that fruits and vegetables (white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans) are good sources of potassium.

For the study, the researchers followed 90,137 postmenopausal women, aged between 50 to 79 years, for an average 11 years. They measured the intake of potassium (from food and supplements) by the participants and recorded any incidence of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes or early deaths during the study period. At the start of the study, the participants were stroke-free and their average dietary potassium intake was 2,611 mg/day.

The researchers found that women who ate maximum amount of potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer a stroke and 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than those with relatively less consumption. These women were also less likely to face premature death.

Among women without hypertension, those who had the most potassium had a 27 percent lower ischemic stroke risk and 21 percent reduced risk for all stroke types compared to those with least potassium in their daily diets.

On the other hand, among women with hypertension, potassium lowered the death risk but not stroke.

"Only 2.8 percent of women in our study met or exceeded this level. The World Health Organization's daily potassium recommendation for women is lower, at 3,510 mg or more. Still, only 16.6 percent of women we studied met or exceeded that," said Wassertheil-Smoller in a press release. "Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food."

While potassium has been found to be effective in lowering stroke and death risk, too much consumption can be dangerous to the heart. "People should check with their doctor about how much potassium they should eat," said Wassertheil-Smoller.

The finding is published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

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