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High Potassium More Important than Low Salt in Heart Healthy Diet?

Managing your blood pressure is a balancing act that responds best to a combination of eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and following your doctor's orders for medication and other lifestyle interventions (like reducing stress in healthy ways).

And when it comes to food, limiting the amount of sodium you consume is important to control blood pressure. Most Americans consume an estimated 3,500 mg of sodium per day, often from eating too much processed foods like French fries, frozen meals, canned soup, and sodium-loaded condiments like salad dressing and soy sauce.

However, limiting the amount of sodium in your diet isn't the only way to control and improve blood pressure, according to a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics. In the study, researchers followed 2,185 pre-teen girls for 10 years. They tracked their diet, sodium intake, potassium intake, and measured blood pressure throughout the study.

What they found was surprising. There was no adverse change in blood pressure among girls who consumed 3,500 mg of sodium or more per day compared to girls who consumed less. But they did find that increasing potassium levels in their diet by eating more healthy foods like citrus fruits, bananas, potatoes, leafy-green vegetables, and fish, did have a positive impact on lowering blood pressure.

Researchers believe that consuming higher levels of potassium (recommended amount is 4,700 mg of potassium per day) may help counter the negative effects of too much sodium in the diet linked to high blood pressure. It's certainly not an endorsement to eat more foods loaded with sodium, but the study does suggest that choosing potassium rich-foods can help protect your heart. Please note that certain conditions, such as CKD and for people on dialysis, a high-potassium diet is not recommended. Check with your doctor before starting a new diet.

Need help choosing low-sodium foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Check out the selection of Low-Sodium Meals available at MagicKitchen.com.