High-Potassium Diets May Decrease Heart Disease Risk Regardless of Sodium Intake, According to New Research

Considering heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., contributing to nearly 700,000 fatalities a year, it’s of the utmost importance that we take our cardiovascular health seriously. Thankfully, new research from the European Society of Cardiology found that getting more potassium in our diets might do wonders for staving off this common health condition, particularly for women.

What They Found

This study looked at data on the sodium and potassium concentration in urine samples from 11,267 men and 13,696 women who had average ages of 59 and 58, respectively. These samples were used to estimate relative sodium and potassium intake. The researchers also assessed systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading that measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats), and participants filled out lifestyle questionnaires that would account for things such as alcohol intake, smoking, medication and prior heart attack or stroke over four years. The researchers then separated participants into three tertiles: low, medium and high potassium intakes. Additionally, researchers studied median follow-up results of nearly 20 years and found that 55% of participants had been hospitalized or died due to cardiovascular disease events in that period.

The researchers found that, for women, the more potassium in the diet, the lower their blood pressure, no matter what their sodium intake looked like. It’s worth noting that these findings were not exactly reciprocated in the men they studied. That said, all study participants (women and men) in the highest tertile of potassium intake had a 13% decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, regardless of their sodium levels.

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