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Potassium Trumps Sodium in Preventing Heart Disease

Pass the potassium please. A new study reveals that people who have the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diet, had a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Those who had the lowest ratio of sodium to potassium intake had less risk of dying from cardiovascular related diseases, like high blood pressure, stroke, or heart disease.

Researchers followed individuals for 15 years to determine their results. What they have found tells us we cannot just watch out for sodium, but we must monitor potassium too.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) researchers discovered that too much sodium isn’t such a bad thing, as long as you have the potassium intake to trump it.

The most important advice the researchers can give based on these results of the study solidifies the importance of a healthy diet. A diet that is balanced in both potassium and sodium is important. People can reduce their sodium intake by consuming less processed foods. Processed foods are ones that you can buy in a box, tear open from a packet, and they likely have a pretty long list of ingredients. It’s easy to increase potassium intake by eating more fruit and vegetables and dairy products, which are naturally a good source of potassium and low in sodium. This helps slim down your chances of developing high blood pressure immensely.

Processing has a huge impact on foods. For example, 3.5 oz of unprocessed pork contains 61 mg of sodium and 340mg of potassium. When you turn that into ham, it changes into a sodium-laden sample, and has a whopping 921 mg of sodium and, unfortunately, the processing reduces the potassium content to 240 mg. It becomes the perfect recipe for high blood pressure.

The Ideal Ratio

The most protective ratio for health? Sodium vs. potassium should be under 1. Meaning you should always have more potassium than sodium in a food choice.

One easy way to boost your potassium intake is to replace regular snacks with fruit. For example, a doughnut contains 210 mg of sodium and only 120 mg of potassium. On the other hand an orange has just 2 mg of sodium and 150 mg of potassium. That is the most protective ratio against heart disease and high blood pressure.

Another option is to switch to potassium-based salt substitutes. Or try sea salt, which also contains minerals like magnesium and calcium, in addition to potassium.

Potassium Rich Food List

Potassium-Rich FoodsServing SizePotassium (mg)
Lima beans1 cup955
Tomato products, canned sauce1 cup909
Winter squash1 cup896
Spinach, cooked1 cup839
Prunes, dried1 cup828
Prune juice1 cup707
Bananas, raw1 cup594
Yogurt plain, skim milk8 ounces579
Beets, cooked1 cup519
Brussel sprouts, cooked1 cup504
Orange juice1 cup496
Cantaloupe1 cup494
Melons, honeydew1 cup461
Apricots, dried10 halves407
Milk, fat free or skim1 cup407
Nectarines1 nectarine288
Dates, dry5 dates271
Figs, dry2 figs271
Kiwi fruit, raw1 medium252
Oranges1 orange237
Pears (fresh)1 pear208
Almonds1 ounce206
Peanuts dry roasted, unsalted1 ounce187
Avocados, raw1 ounce180
Apple1 small147

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