A diet rich in foods rich in potassium reduces the risk for a stroke by over 20 percent and also lowers the risk of heart disease. Good sources of potassium include bananas and other fruits and vegetables, as well as fish, poultry and dairy.
The average dietary potassium intake in most countries worldwide is much lower than recommended by health authorities, and increasing potassium intake may provide protection against stroke and other cardiovascular disorders, Health News reported.
To look into the association between the level of habitual potassium intake and the risk of heart disease, researchers pulled data about potassium and heart disease from 11 studies, which included a total of 247,510 men and women. The researchers looked at what people in these studies recalled eating in the past day.
It was found that people who consumed 1.64 grams of potassium or more a day had a 21 percent lower risk of stroke and also tended to have a lower risk of any heart disease. It was also noted that five or more servings of fruits and vegetables will provide the amount of potassium needed to get this protective effect.
The protective effect of potassium against the risk of stroke and other vascular events may in part be traced to its blood pressure-lowering effect, particularly in hypertensive individuals and in those with elevated sodium intake.
However, other processes appear to be at work as well. For example, potassium may be involved in slowing the process of atherosclerosis and preventing the thickening of the walls of arteries, all of which can lead to heart disease.