(NaturalNews) Increasing incidence of high blood pressure continues to be the most significant factor in death from a heart attack and advancing cardiovascular disease. Elevated blood pressure readings cause thickening of the coronary arteries as micro-cracks develop that the body attempts to correct with deposits of coronary plaque. Overweight and obesity, smoking, physical inactivity and stress are known contributing factors to the hypertension epidemic. Researchers publishing in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the imbalance of potassium to sodium in the diet is a significant factor driving high blood pressure. Maintaining an optimized ratio of 2:1 (potassium to sodium) by cutting salty processed foods and increasing natural fruits and vegetables is shown to significantly lower out of control blood pressure readings.
Researchers examining the potassium intake across 21 countries including the US found that average daily consumption of the mineral ranged from 1.7 to 3.7 grams, well below the recommended daily allowance of 4.7 grams. Similarly, sodium consumption averaged 5 grams per day with many individuals taking in as much as 9 to 12 grams. The recommended sodium intake is 2,400 mg daily and 1,500 mg or less is suggested for those with established cardiovascular risk factors.
The study found that only 20% to 30 % of the adult population maintains normal blood pressure readings. The study authors found "An effective way of increasing potassium intake is to follow the guidelines for healthy nutrition more closely, including a higher consumption of vegetables and fruit. In addition, the use of mineral salts in processed foods – by which sodium is partly replaced by potassium – would contribute to an improved intake of both sodium and potassium."
The study concluded that increasing potassium in the diet has a significant effect on lowering blood pressure and is equal to the effect seen by lowering sodium consumption. Higher potassium intake from natural sources including avocados, spinach, carrots and tomatoes and elimination of sodium-infused processed foods (snacks, soup and fast food) can combine to lower systolic blood pressure readings by 5% to 7%. Improving this single risk factor could reduce hypertension rates enough to dramatically lower cardiovascular risk and heart attack deaths.