Potassium-rich foods like banana can reduce the risk of stroke, death in postmenopausal women, says study.
Senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, said that previous studies had shown that potassium consumption may lower blood pressure. The findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables for they are good sources of potassium, which not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death.
Researchers studied 90,137 postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 79, for an average 11 years. They looked at how much potassium the women consumed, as well as if they had strokes, including ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, or died during the study period. Women in the study were stroke-free at the start and their average dietary potassium intake was 2,611 mg/day. Results of this study are based on potassium from food, not supplements.
The researchers found:
Women who ate the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer stroke in general and 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than women who ate the least.
Women who ate the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least.
Among women who did not have hypertension (whose blood pressure was normal and they were not on any medications for high blood pressure), those who ate the most potassium had a 27 percent lower ischemic stroke risk and 21 percent reduced risk for all stroke types, compared to women who ate the least potassium in their daily diets.
Among women with hypertension (whose blood pressure was high or they were taking drugs for high blood pressure), those who ate the most potassium had a lower risk of death, but potassium intake did not lower their stroke risk.
Researchers suggested that higher dietary potassium intake might be more beneficial before high blood pressure develops. They also said there was no evidence of any association between potassium intake and hemorrhagic stroke, which could be related to the low number of hemorrhagic strokes in the study.
The findings suggested that women needed to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include bananas, white and sweet potatoes, and white beans.
While increasing potassium intake is probably a good idea for most older women, it could be dangerous to the heart for people who had too much potassium in their blood.
The study was observational and included only postmenopausal women. Researchers also did not take sodium intake into consideration, so the potential importance of a balance between sodium and potassium is not among the findings.
The research is published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.