Hsing-Yi Chang of the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and fellow researchers studied nearly 2,000 elderly at a retirement home in northern Taiwan.
The researchers asked cooks at the retirement home to tinker with their recipes a bit. Specifically they told two of the five kitchens to replace regular salt with potassium-enriched salt.
A total of 768 veterans ate from the kitchens using potassium-enriched salt. Another 1,213 veterans got their food from kitchens using regular salt.
When the study started, most veterans were at least 65 years old. Their age, weight and blood pressure were similar, with about 40 percent having high blood pressure.
Those who used potassium-enriched salt were found having reduced risk of diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, they said.
However, the researchers say people with kidney problems should not take extra potassium in order to avoid problems such as abnormal heart rhythms.
While modest amounts of salt may be fine, high-sodium diets may lead to high blood pressure, a major heart disease risk factor. Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure, Chang's team noted.