"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Putting potassium in perspective

If you eat a variety of vegetables, legumes, and fruits, you're probably getting enough potassium in your eating regimen. Many plant-based foods aren't only wealthy in potassium (see “Good Sources of Potassium”), they're also naturally low in sodium, each of which help keep blood pressure inside normal ranges. can.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't get enough produce of their day by day fare and fall just shy of the beneficial day by day goal of three,500 to 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium. (Dairy products and fish are also good sources.) They also devour a variety of sodium, which is a known contributor to hypertension. High blood pressure is a strong risk factor for stroke and heart attack.

Good sources of potassium

the meal

Potassium (mg)

Sweet potato, baked, 1 medium


White beans, cooked, 1/2 cup


Soybeans, cooked (edamame), 1/2 cup


Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup


Banana, 1 medium


Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup


Apricots, dried, 1/4 cup


Orange juice, 3/4 cup


Tomato, 1 medium


Grapes, 1 cup


Source: USDA FoodData Central

An alternative to sodium?

A clinical trial was published in 2021. New England Journal of Medicine Pointed to a possible solution. The study involved nearly 21,000 people living in rural areas of China, most of whom had a history of hypertension and stroke. Half used regular salt (sodium chloride), while the others used a salt substitute containing 25% potassium chloride and 75% sodium chloride. After a median follow-up period of 4.7 years, the danger of stroke was 14% lower amongst those using salt substitutes.

Potassium: Natural vs Added.

Salt substitutes that contain 50% or 100% potassium chloride are easy to seek out online, but Dr. Jurasik doesn't recommend them. Eating more fresh, unprocessed foods is a greater strategy. Also, try citrus-based spice blends, which goal taste receptors like sodium. (For more ideas, see “Upgrade Your Cooking to Reduce Salt” in August 2021 Heart Letter.)

Food manufacturers already use potassium chloride in some products (resembling bread, cereal, cheese, and processed meats) to switch the proportion of sodium chloride they normally use. But potassium salt has a somewhat bitter, metallic taste that limits how much people will tolerate, and it's also costlier than sodium chloride.

There's another excuse to be cautious about increasing food supplies with potassium: the danger of hyperkalemia, a higher-than-normal level of potassium within the blood. Too high potassium levels can result in dangerous heart rhythm problems, and in extreme cases, cardiac arrest.

Kidney concerns

Fortunately, hyperkalemia is just not something most individuals have to worry about. The majority of individuals have healthy kidneys, which do a wonderful job of filtering excess potassium from the body, says Dr. Jurachek. But aging, diabetes and heart disease can affect kidney function. In addition, certain medications cause the kidneys to retain potassium, including those used to treat hypertension and heart failure. These include the so-called potassium-sparing diuretics: eplerenone (Inspira), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Darinium, Mexide). ACE inhibitors resembling lisinopril (Prinivil) and ramipril (Altace) and angiotensin receptor blockers resembling losartan (Cozaar) and valsartan (Diovan) also cause potassium levels to rise in some people.

A blood test called a baseline metabolic panel (often done two to 4 weeks after people start these medications) can detect abnormal potassium levels. Once you're on a stable medication regimen and your doctor has confirmed that your kidney function is normal, you may have your potassium checked on an annual basis. But to be secure, in the event you're taking considered one of these medications, it's best to avoid salt substitutes with potassium chloride, as some products contain 800 milligrams of potassium in 1 / 4 teaspoon. It's also an excellent idea to envision along with your doctor in the event you start eating foods high in potassium, Dr. Juracek says, although the danger of hyperkalemia may be very low, even in individuals with moderate kidney disease. Even in people, says Dr. Jurassic.

Finally, the alternative problem — a potassium level that's too low, called hypokalemia — can even occur. Different forms of diuretics (called thiazide and loop diuretics) sometimes cause this problem, however it is just not common. For an inventory of the several classes of blood pressure medications and customary examples, see /heart-meds/blood-pressure.

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