Eating these foods can reduce risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure – study says

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Adults who regularly eat potassium-rich foods are 13 per cent less likely to end up having a cardiovascular event, experts say. Cardiovascular events can include serious incidents like heart attacks and strokes that could even prove fatal.

However, scientists claim that foods high in potassium, such as avocado, salmon, and bananas, can offer health benefits to reduce the risk of such events. These foods can also help lower blood pressure and reduce the impact of consuming too much salt, which can be found in high amounts in a lot of the food we eat every day.

Experts also found women saw greater health benefits than men. Lead researcher Professor Liffert Vogt of Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Netherlands, told the Sun : “The results suggest that potassium helps preserve heart health, but that women benefit more than men.

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“It is well known that high salt consumption is associated with elevated blood pressure and a raised risk of heart attacks and strokes. Health advice has focused on limiting salt intake but this is difficult to achieve when our diets include processed foods.

“Potassium helps the body excrete more sodium in the urine. In our study, dietary potassium was linked with the greatest health gains in women.”

Published in the European Heart Journal, the study spanned 20 years and included almost 25,000 older Brits. Researchers asked questions about their diet, measured their blood pressure, and took urine samples to measure how much potassium they consumed.

Women who had the highest potassium intake found to be 11 per cent less likely to have heart trouble than those who ate the least, while men saw a nine per cent decrease in risk. Overall, the risk for all adults fell by around 13 per cent when they had a diet full of potassium-rich foods.

© Acme Food Arts/Getty Images/StockFood Three bananas on a green background

Prof Vogt added: “The relationship between potassium and cardiovascular events was the same regardless of salt intake, suggesting that potassium has other ways of protecting the heart on top of increasing sodium excretion.”

According to the NHS, diets high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, resulting in a risk of heart disease and stroke. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 5g of salt per day, while UK health officials suggest adults have no more than 6g of salt per day.

Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “This research supports current advice that cutting down our intake of salt and eating more foods containing potassium can be the recipe for a healthier heart.

“An easy way to boost your potassium intake is by eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Other foods like pulses, fish, nuts, seeds and milk are also high in potassium and low in salt, so can help benefit your heart.”

Professor Vogt concluded: “Our findings indicate that a heart healthy diet goes beyond limiting salt to boosting potassium content. Food companies can help by swapping standard sodium-based salt for a potassium salt alternative in processed foods.”

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