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Banana boost for blood pressure

Tuesday January 27th, 2009

Eating bananas and other fruit high in potassium could play a key part in reducing blood pressure, researchers claimed today.

Eating potassium rich foods may even neutralise the harmful effects of too much salt in the diet, according to experts who conducted the latest research.

The findings come from a study of nearly 3,000 people, whose levels of potassium and sodium were measured using laboratory samples up to 20 years.

Researchers followed their progress over some 15 years. They found that those with high levels of sodium in relation to potassium were 50 per cent more likely to have been diagnosed with heart disease than those with high levels of potassium in relation to sodium.

The findings are reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers say it is the first time potassium and sodium levels have been measured precisely in volunteers - rather than being estimated through reports of eating habits.

Researcher Dr Paul Whelton, of the Loyola University Health System, Chicago, USA, said the findings represented a "quantum leap" in studying the issue.

He said: "There isn't as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."

The US Institute of Medicine has recently recommended that people double their intake of potassium, reaching 4.7 grams a day, as well as reducing salt intake.

Potassium is found in bananas, orange juice, tuna, low-fat milk and yoghut and potatoes.

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(1):32-40

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Tags: Heart Health | North America | Nutrition & Healthy Eating

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