Potassium May Reduce Stroke RiskMay 12, 2011
Once again, a study has indicated that more potassium rich foods in the diet may reduce the chance of a stroke. The latest study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, focused on the effects of calcium, potassium and magnesium, particularly in women. The study, headed by Dr. Susanna C. Larsson, of the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine, observed a sample of 34,670 women aged 49 to 83 years old. While the study found no correlation between strokes and the levels of potassium across the broad sample, they did find a significant effect when they looked only at those women with a history of hypertension.
The 10.4-year follow-up for the study identified 1,680 stroke cases, including 1,310 cerebral infarctions, 154 intracerebral hemorrhages, 79 subarachnoid hemorrhages and 137 other types of strokes.
Among women with hypertension, those with highest intake of potassium rich foods were 36% less likely to suffer strokes and 44% less likely to suffer cerebral infarctions, compared with those who had the lowest intake of potassium. This study came on the heels of a UK/Italian joint study that suggested three bananas per day were enough to significantly reduce stroke risk.
These results build upon earlier results gleaned from a study at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. That study also showed that potassium levels had a significant impact in reducing stroke risks for people with a history of hypertension. They went beyond potassium rich foods and found this correlation even with those who took potassium supplements. For their conclusion, they wrote:
“…although these data do not prove a causal relationship, they provide strong support for a preventive effect of diets rich in potassium, magnesium, and cereal fiber on stroke, particularly among men with high blood pressure. Increased intake of potassium alone may decrease the risk of stroke, and perhaps potassium supplements for hypertensives should be more broadly considered. However, evidence is inadequate to support an indiscriminate use of potassium supplements, which can be harmful. Rather, potassium intake should be increased by substituting fruits, vegetables, and their natural juices for low-potassium processed foods and sodas.”
More on that study can be seen here.
This really drives home the point that those of us with high blood pressure would do well to keep up on eating potassium rich foods, such as fresh bananas and strawberries.