(NaturalNews) Increased intake of mineral nutrients can decrease the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.
"If we were to achieve the correct potassium/sodium ratio through dietary means, there would be less hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the population as a whole," study author Mark C. Houston said.
The researchers estimated that an increase in dietary potassium intake in the United States would decrease the prevalence of high blood pressure by 10 percent. Prior research has also suggested that consuming 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day of magnesium and 800 milligrams per day of calcium also helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, and affects nearly one in six people worldwide. In the United States, almost 33 percent of all people (70 million) suffer from hypertension, while an estimated 90 percent will develop it by the age of 65. Another 70 million have higher-than-desirable blood pressure levels that are considered pre-hypertensive.
Houston noted that human populations that eat so-called "primitive" diets – the kind of diets most people ate before industrialization and all people ate before agriculture – have hypertension rates of only one percent. These diets are known to be high in fruits and vegetables, and consequently contain high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium.
Fewer than 50 percent of hypertension patients are ever able to achieve blood pressure control. In addition to cardiovascular disease, hypertension also exacerbates the symptoms of diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables has been recommended as a way to prevent or control cardiovascular disease by a wide variety of respected health organizations, including the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure; the American Heart Association; the European Society of Hypertension, the World Health Organization and the British Hypertension Society.