Hypertension affects a billion people worldwide
Hypertension - which usually has no symptoms - affects more than one billion people across the world. Of those who have been diagnosed, hundreds of thousands take daily pills to control their blood pressure but only about half of patients see their blood pressure fall to a healthy level.
Scientists are now claiming that consuming foods rich in potassium such as bananas, sweet potatoes and spinach every day could help reverse hypertension, an often deadly condition. The research shows the beneficial mineral works in the same way as diuretics, drugs commonly used to lower blood pressure.
Potassium works like a diuretic
Potassium works to prevent hypertension by balancing levels of salt within the body - eating a diet high in potassium is like taking a diuretic.
Reducing the amount of sodium you consume is a well known way of lowering blood pressure however the evidence is suggesting that increasing the amount of potassium you consume is equally as important at managing hypertension.
For the study, the researchers wanted to look at the link between dietary habits and blood pressure. After assessing urine samples, they discovered that higher dietary potassium was linked to lower blood pressure - and this remained true regardless of the participants' sodium intake.
After assessing studies on rodents, they found the body does a balancing act to control potassium in the body by using sodium. When dietary potassium is high, kidneys excrete more salt and water.
Increasing dietary potassium to benefical levels will take conscious effort
A typical Western diet is high in sodium and low in potassium which significantly increases the chances of developing high blood pressure.
A 2004 Institute of Medicine report recommends adults consume at least 4.7g of potassium daily to see the benefits, however be careful of where you obtain this amount. Put into real terms this means eating around 11 bananas! Hoever a cup of black beans will help you achieve 50% of your daily goal.
It is further claimed by the experts that consuming your daily 4.7g will blunt the negative effects of dietary sodium and reduce the risks of kidney stones and bone loss.