When it comes to lowering blood pressure you need to both lower your salt intake and increase your consumption of potassium
Individuals who need to reduce their blood pressure should focus on increasing their potassium intake, a mineral found in fruits, vegetables, dairy products and nutritional supplements, as well as reducing their salt intake. In this newly published study analysis showing the benefits of increased potassium intake Dr. Paul Whelton and his team crunched data from the Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP) I and II. The studies included 2,974 adults with pre-hypertension who were 30 to 54 years of age upon enrollment. Twenty-four hour urine samples collected intermittently over the trials' respective 18 and 36 month courses were analyzed for sodium and potassium excretion levels; a marker of their intake. Follow-up data collected over a 10 to 15 year period tracked the development of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality.
Of 2,275 participants for whom follow-up data was available, 193 cardiovascular events occurred (stroke, heart attack, etc). While subjects whose urine sodium levels were among the top 25 % of participants experienced an insignificant increase in cardiovascular event risk, those with the greatest sodium to potassium ratio had a 50 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those whose ratios were in the lowest quarter indicating they needed to consume more potassium to be protected.
"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," stated Dr Whelton, who is one of the nation's experts on hypertension. The study is published in the January 12, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.