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The mineral that could defeat high blood pressure

Tuesday September 14th, 2010

Increased efforts should be made to encourage people with high blood pressure to use "healthy" salt, researchers said last night.

Switching to potassium in the diet can contribute "significantly" to reducing the problem, according to Dutch researchers.

People with blood pressure problems are encouraged to reduce salt consumption - to cut their levels of sodium.

But increasing consumption of potassium could be as effective as halving the amount of conventional salt in the diet, according to the report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

As well as being found in low-sodium salt, potassium is found in most fruit and vegetables, especially banana, broccoli and soya.

The international study suggests that in countries such as China, Germany and the USA, consumption of potassium is well below healthy levels.

The researchers from Wageningen University, Holland, write: "In Western countries, salt consumption can be as high as 9-12g a day whereas 5g is the recommended amount according to World Health Organisation standards.

"Most household salt is to be found in processed foods such as bread, ready-made meals, soups, sauces and savoury snacks and pizzas. An effective way of increasing potassium intake is to follow the guidelines for healthy nutrition more closely, including a higher consumption of vegetables and fruit."

They add: "In addition, the use of mineral salts in processed foods - by which sodium is partly replaced by potassium - would contribute to an improved intake of both sodium and potassium."

Van Mierlo LAJ, Greyling A, Zock PL, Kok FJ, Geleijnse JM. Suboptimal potassium intakes and potential impact on population blood pressure. Archives of Internal Medicine 2010; 170 (16): September 13.

Tags: Asia | Diet & Food | Europe | Heart Health | North America

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