According to a new study published in the journal European Heart Journaleating the equivalent of a banana a day could have very beneficial effects for your cardiovascular health.
Are bananas one of the miracle foods to preserve… your heart? According to a new study published Friday, July 22, 2022 in the journal European Heart Journalthis fruit particularly rich in potassium would indeed have the gift of reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease… and this is much more marked in women.
“It is well known that high salt intake is associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes”explains Liffert Vogt, professor of clinical nephrology and renal physiology at the University Medical Centers of Amsterdam (Netherlands), in a statement posted on the website of theEuropean Society of Cardiology.
“Health advice has focused on limiting salt intake, but this is difficult to achieve when our diets include processed foods. Potassium helps the body excrete more sodium in the urine. In our study, dietary potassium was associated with the greatest health gains in women.”
Lower blood pressure thanks to potassium
To arrive at this result, the researchers analyzed the health data collected from approximately 25,000 Britons aged 40-79men and women combined, between 1993 and 1997. Participants in this large-scale study completed questionnaires on their lifestyle and blood pressure, along with urine samples.
These samples were analyzed, including for potassium and sodium, to assess dietary intake. However, the researchers found that the more potassium consumption increased in women, the more blood pressure decreased.
In detail, every 1 gram increase in daily potassium was associated with lower systolic blood pressure of 2.4 mm Hg (millimeter of mercury) in these women. On the men’s side, no link between potassium levels and blood pressure was observed..
13% lower risk of heart disease
Note that in this study, the patients were followed for a median of 19.5 years, which means that half were followed longer, the other half over a shorter period. During this period, 55% of participants were hospitalized or died of heart disease.
After weighting their results according to various factors (alcohol and tobacco consumption, age, sex, BMI, medication taken, diabetes and cardiovascular history, etc.), the researchers concluded that people who consumed the most potassium display 13% lower risk of heart disease than those with a lower intake.
In detail, when men and women were analyzed separately, the corresponding risk reductions were 7% and 11%, respectively. The amount of salt in the diet did not influence the relationship between potassium and cardiovascular events in men or women.
Bananas, salmon, milk, potato…
“Findings suggest potassium helps maintain heart health, but women benefit more than men. The relationship between potassium and cardiovascular events was the same regardless of salt intake, suggesting that potassium has other ways of protecting the heart besides increasing sodium excretion.”explains Professor Vogt.
“Our findings indicate that a heart-healthy diet goes beyond limiting salt to increasing potassium content”he continues.
“Food companies can help by replacing standard sodium-based salt with an alternative to potassium salt in processed foods. In addition to this, we should all prioritize fresh, unprocessed foods as they are both high in potassium and low in salt.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults consume at least 3.5 grams of potassium and less than 2 grams of sodium (about 5 grams of salt) per day. The types of foods that contain the most potassium are vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, dairy products and fish.
Thus, a 115 gram banana will contain some 375 mg of potassium, 154 grams of cooked salmon will contain 780 mg, a 136 gram potato will contain 500 mg and 1 cup of milk will contain 375 mg.