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Potassium rich diet protects against stroke and reduces mortality risk

A relatively high potassium intake - potassium is found mainly in fruit, vegetables and other plant products - protects against strokes and reduces the chance of dying. Epidemiologists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York calculated the positive effect of a potassium-rich diet by following nearly 1,000 women for a period of 11 years.

The researchers followed 90,137 women, aged between 50 and 79 at the start of the study, for a period of 11 years. They recorded which women died or had a stroke during the 11-year period.

The researchers had information on the participants' diet and were therefore able to calculate how much potassium they consumed on a daily basis. The researchers divided the women into four equal-sized groups on the basis of their potassium intake.

Potassium is found mainly in plant products such as fruit, vegetables and potatoes. The recommended daily potassium intake in Scandinavia is 3100 mg for women and 3500 mg for men. Only true foodies who prepare their own meals and eat lots of vegetables are likely to achieve this.

A relatively high potassium intake reduced the risk of mortality and of a stroke.

Potassium rich diet protects against stroke and reduces mortality risk

The protective effect of potassium against a stroke depended on blood pressure: the effect was noticeably stronger in the women with healthy blood pressure than in those who had high blood pressure.

Potassium rich diet protects against stroke and reduces mortality risk

"High potassium intake is associated with a lower risk of all stroke and ischemic stroke, as well as all-cause mortality in older women, particularly those who are not hypertensive," the researchers concluded.

"Because dietary intake of potassium in the United States is well below the recommended intake, these findings are important in suggesting preventive dietary measures to lower the risk of stroke."

The researchers are pretty sure that their results are reliable. When it comes to the cardiovascular effects of potassium, their study is "the largest prospective study of older women with long-term follow-up" published to date.

Stroke. 2014 Oct;45(10):2874-80.

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