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Stroke Lowered By Potassium-Rich Foods

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 10:00 PM EDT
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Eating potassium-rich foods like bananas can help reduce the risk of strokes and death from strokes in postmenopausal women.

"Previous studies have shown that potassium consumption may lower blood pressure. But whether potassium intake could prevent stroke or death wasn't clear," study senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., a distinguished university professor emerita, department of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, said in a news release.

"Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death," Einstein added.

The study involved 90,137 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79. The women were followed for an average of 11 years. Researchers looked at the amount of potassium that was consumed, stroke rates and death rates and found that women who ate the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer stroke in general and 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than women who ate the least.

Women who ate the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least. However, non-hypertensive women who ate the most potassium were 27 percent less likely to suffer ischemic stroke risk and 21 percent less likely to suffer all stroke types, compared to women who ate the least potassium in their daily diets.

Among women who did not have hypertension (whose blood pressure was normal and they were not on any medications for high blood pressure), those who ate the most potassium had a 27 percent lower ischemic stroke risk and 21 percent reduced risk for all stroke types, compared to women who ate the least potassium in their daily diets. The study also revealed that hypertensive women who ate the most potassium have the lowest death risk. However, hypertensive potassium eaters were not less likely to suffer strokes.

"Only 2.8 percent of women in our study met or exceeded this level. The World Health Organization's daily potassium recommendation for women is lower, at 3,510 mg or more. Still, only 16.6 percent of women we studied met or exceeded that," said Wassertheil-Smoller.

"Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans," she added.

The findings are published in the journal Stroke.

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