ATLANTA (AP) — The debate about the dangers of eating too much salt has gained a new wrinkle: A federal study suggests that the people most at risk are those who also get too little potassium.
Potassium-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, have long been recommended as a dietary defense against heart disease and other chronic illnesses. The new research is one of the first and largest U.S. studies to look at the relationship of salt, potassium and heart disease deaths.
“If you have too much sodium and too little potassium, it’s worse than either one on its own,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, who has led efforts to get the public to eat less salt. He co-wrote a commentary published with the study in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine.
Potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of salt, said Dr. Elena Kuklina, one of the study’s authors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Salt — or sodium chloride — is the main source of sodium for most people.
The research found people who eat a lot of salt and very little potassium were more than twice as likely to die from a heart attack as those who ate about equal amounts of both nutrients. Such a dietary imbalance posed a greater risk than simply eating too much salt, according to the study.
A healthy diet is one which contains foods rich in vitamins and minerals. While you may spend a lot of time counting calories and looking at how much saturated fat is in your foods, how often do you look at the potassium levels?
Potassium is actually essential for the body. It has many health benefits yet not many of us actually bother about it. If you want to improve your health then eating foods rich in potassium is definitely a good idea.
The Health Benefits of Potassium
The main health benefit of potassium is that it lowers the blood pressure. It is also particularly good for athletes. Many athletes have a potassium rich diet as it helps to prevent cramps and cardiovascular irregularities. A lot of potassium is lost during exercise which is why athletes need to have more potassium in their bodies than the average person.
6 Surprising Bone Builders
Your bones do such a good job supporting your every move, it’s easy to take them for granted. But your skeleton is a living tissue in constant need of replenishment: As early as age 25, you can start to lose more bone than you build, leading to progressively thinner, weaker bones as you grow older and raising your risk for osteoporosis (literally “porous bone”) or debilitating fractures and breaks.
A balanced diet rich in fresh, whole foods is the foundation for good bone health, says Jeri Nieves, Ph.D., a health-care professional affiliated with the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City. Here, Nieves shares 6 weapons against bone loss:
Get your share of lean protein—but not too much. Protein aids the production of collagen fibers that provide a framework for bones, and adequate protein intake is important for bone health. In fact, according to several large studies, older adults over age 80 with low protein intake had more rapid bone loss and a higher risk of fractures than those with sufficient protein.––
1. Eat: About 5 ounces of lean protein (skinless poultry, fish, beans, low-fat or fat-free-dairy foods, nuts and seeds) per day for women, 5½ for men. (A serving of chicken or fish the size of a deck of cards is about 2 to 3 ounces.) Avoid: Red meat, poultry skin, lard, butter, cream and tropical oils (saturated fat can thin bones). Caution: If you are on a low-carb, high-protein weight-loss program, your body may leach calcium from your bones, causing them to weaken. The key: keep a good balance and make sure you consume enough calcium. (See “Eat Calcium-Rich Foods,” below.)