The link between potassium and salt, and how important potassium is in our bodies – 

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—We’ve all heard the news—too much salt is bad for our health, and for many reasons. Excess salt (we’ve doubled salt intake since the 1970s) is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Adding to the laundry list of reasons why we should decrease our sodium intake, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released a study creating even more accusations against the salt shaker.

The study investigated the long-term effects of potassium and salt intake, given that potassium often counteracts the effects of salt in our bodies. After a 15-year-long study observing more than 12,000 people, researchers found these results: 825 people died from heart disease, 433 from strokes. When assessing their diets, the CDC found that people with a higher salt intake and lower potassium had a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause, and a 200 percent increased risk of death from a heart attack.

So what does this mean?

The strong correlation between an increased risk of death in people with low potassium and high sodium levels tells us that it might be smart to start adding more servings of potassium to our daily meals (in addition to cutting out excess salt). It also tells us that it’s time to watch out for hidden sodium. Researchers from the CDC recommend focusing on balancing our salt and potassium intake to avoid these risks.

To increase potassium, think beyond bananas, and also eat:

• Spinach
• Grapes
• Carrots
• Sweet potatoes
• Low-fat milk or yogurt

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