Jan 18, 2019 | Updated: 08:24 AM EST

Consuming Potassium Rich Foods Better For You Than Low Salt Diet

Apr 30, 2015 02:47 PM EDT


A new study has found that the regular consumption of potassium rich foods such as bananas has more positive effects on health that partaking in a low salt diet. The new study published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, tracked the eating habits and blood pressure of 2,185 girls between the ages of 9 and 10 for over 10 years. Researchers found that eating potassium rich foods helps you maintain a lower blood pressure in both childhood and adulthood, but a low salt diet has no effect on blood pressure, contrary to what was previously believed.

"These findings were important because nutrition often recommends reduction of sodium intake, but the study suggests that teenagers would get more long-term benefits by eating more potassium-rich foods and not worrying about salt," said Dr. Lynn L. Moore, the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Boston University.

There are many child friendly foods that are rich in potassium, including bananas that contain 420 milligrams, whole baked potatoes contain 700 milligrams, and sweet potato fries have about 500 milligrams of potassium.

"The recommended intake of potassium is 4,700 milligrams a day, but only small amount of people actually achieve that. It may be that potassium is more of a determinant of blood pressure than sodium is. The kids who consumed the most potassium had much lower blood pressures by the end of adolescence. What we need to focus on is increasing potassium intake rather than focusing on restricting sodium intake," said Dr. Moore.

Sodium intake, on the other hand, should be far less.  According to a study published in Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010, sodium intake for anyone between 2 to 50 years old should be limited to less than 2,300 milligrams per day. 

According the American Heart Association, Americans consume far more than this daily recommendation, usually ingesting an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, twice the American Heart Association's recommended amount of 1,500 milligrams.  This puts Americans at a much greater risk for high blood pressure, because the added sodium causes the body to retain more fluids putting more stress on the heart.

For those of you looking to really do something to impact your health, you may want to forget about trying to avoid sodium altogether, and instead try picking up a banana, sweet potato, or other food that is rich is potassium, as they provide many more health benefits to the body compared to trying to lower your salt intake.

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