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How Potassium Rich Foods Help Your Heart Stay Healthy

A diet with plenty of potassium rich foods can help prevent hardening of the arteries. Potassium prevents calcium build-up in artery walls.

If you want a healthy heart, fill your plate with potassium rich foods, especially vegetables. That seems to be the message from an important new study in mice (Sun et al, JCI Insight, Oct. 5, 2017).

Dietary Potassium and Atherosclerosis:

The scientists at the University of Alabama found that mice given low-potassium chow were more likely to develop hardened arteries due to calcium deposits in the vessel walls. Mice eating a high-potassium diet had far more flexible arteries and less vascular calcification.

The mouse study revealed the reasons that calcification occurs when potassium levels are low. That is why you should be eating plenty of potassium rich foods.

Vegetables and fruits are particularly rich in potassium, along with several types of fish. Perhaps that helps explain why the DASH diet, which emphasizes vegetables and fruits, is helpful against hypertension.

Here is a partial list of potassium rich foods:

  • artichokes
  • apricots
  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • bananas
  • beets
  • bell peppers
  • blackberries
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cantaloupe
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • chard
  • mushrooms
  • nectarines
  • oranges
  • potatoes
  • spinach
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes

People with low potassium levels can face life-threatening emergencies. It makes sense to pay attention to your potassium!

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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