Potassium-rich foods protect the heart and arteries
The mineral potassium can not only counteract high blood pressure, but also protect the heart and arteries. A dietary supplement is usually not necessary for this. Food such as bananas, carrots or avocados are good sources of potassium.
Potassium for high blood pressure
People with high blood pressure are at increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack. To lower blood pressure, you should avoid obesity, exercise regularly, stop smoking and eat a healthy diet. It is very important here: salt only in moderation. A high-salt diet can raise blood pressure. A potassium-rich diet, on the other hand, can counteract hypertension. Because the mineral is considered an opponent of the "bad" sodium, which causes the blood pressure to rise. But potassium has even more health benefits: it can protect the heart and arteries.
Potassium deficiency can lead to dangerous rhythm disturbances
According to the German Heart Foundation, a potassium deficiency can change the so-called membrane potential of heart cells in such a way that there is an increased excitability of the pacemaker and muscle cells in the heart and this leads to increased cardiac arrhythmias.
According to the experts, in the best case scenario there are only harmless extra beats (extrasystoles), which are manifested, for example, in the form of heart stumbling.
In severe cases, a potassium deficiency can also lead to dangerous rhythm disorders.
And American scientists have now found that if the potassium supply is too low, the development of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can be promoted.
Reduced mineral intake favors hardening of the arteries
The doctors, who published their results in the journal "JCI Insight", conclude this assumption from experiments with mice.
"We discovered a causal link between reduced potassium intake and vascular calcification in atherosclerosis," said Yabing Chen from the University of Alabama and her colleagues.
In their study, the scientists also found that a potassium-rich diet can prevent hardening of the arteries.
Study author Professor Paul Sanders said in a statement that the study had great potential "because it shows the benefits of adequate potassium supplementation in the prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice and the adverse effects of low potassium intake."
According to the researchers, eating a banana and an avocado could be enough to prevent many heart diseases.
It is important to ensure that you have an adequate potassium intake, but you should not take in too much of it.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
The reference value for the intake of potassium determined by the German Nutrition Society (DGE) is 4,000 mg in adults.
For breastfeeding women, the estimate of adequate potassium intake is 4,400 mg a day due to the increased need.
According to the DGE, good sources of potassium include vegetables and fruits such as apricots, bananas, carrots, kohlrabi, avocado and tomatoes; the potassium content in concentrated form, for. B. with tomato paste or dried fruit.
Hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts and almonds as well as dark chocolate and some types of flour (spelled, rye, buckwheat whole grain) also have a high potassium content.
Be careful when taking supplements
According to the DGE, frequent causes of a potassium deficiency are severe potassium losses due to, for example, vomiting, the use of laxatives, the use of diuretics or chronic diarrhea.
Potassium deficiency can also result from malnutrition (such as anorexia) or an overactive adrenal gland. A potassium deficiency due to a low potassium intake through the diet is rare.
According to the DGE, usually no more than five to six grams of potassium are consumed per day through the diet. The supply through the diet is safe with intact kidney function.
“The situation is different when taking potassium supplements because very high amounts of potassium can be added in a short time. Potassium-containing mono preparations should therefore only be taken under medical supervision, ”write the experts.
An over-supply of potassium can result in intestinal obstruction, muscle weakness and paralysis, lung failure and cardiac arrhythmia (tachycardia). (ad)