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Sodium, Potassium & Our Ticking Heart

Thursday, September 29, 2011
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Sodium, Potassium & Our Ticking HeartThe study
This CDC study looked specifically at sodium and potassium intakes of more than 1200 adults. They were followed for 15 years to observe the rates of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and death. Their diets were also tracked. The study and its results were recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Results

  1. It was seen that a higher sodium intake was associated with higher risk of premature death from any cause.
  2. A higher potassium intake was associated with lower risk of premature death.
  3. As far as heart related deaths were concerned, sodium by itself was not associated with increased risk, but higher potassium intakes were associated with a decreased death rate.
  4. People with higher sodium-potassium ratios were more than twice as likely to die of heart attacks as compared to lower ratios.

Implications of the findings

We need to switch our diet around to reduce our risk for heart disease.
If people were to reduce their intake of sodium and simultaneously increase their potassium intake the improvement in the sodium-potassium ratio would give them better protection from disease and reduce their risk of heart attacks and heart related disease.

Usually fast foods, condiments, garnishes, baked goods, canned foods, luncheon meats, cheese, salted snacks, pickled foods are very high in sodium content.

High amounts of potassium are found in fruits and vegetables, particularly potatoes, plums, prunes, raisins, bananas, broccoli, beets, tomatoes and tomato juice, orange juice, artichokes, lentils, beans, peas, spinach, nuts and seeds, apricots, avocado and garlic. Other foods with substantial amounts of potassium are fish, meat, poultry, whole grains, yogurt and cocoa powder.

So dig in to the fruits, vegetables and grains and hold the salt shakers please!!!

By Poonam Vaswani
Senior Dietitian, Nutritionvista.com

 

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User Comments

11 November, 2011 | Sandeep | Reply

Sandeep There is one danger on the flip side -Older adults usually become ill with hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood), due to age-related causes that affect the way the body handles the balance of sodium and water.
They will have symptoms like drowsiness or excess fatigue, nausea,
headache, confusion, restlessness, loss of consciousness or coma.
This condition is more commonly seen when they are on certain medication like diuretics, anti depressants and pain medication. Vomiting, diarrhea, drinking excessive amounts of water, urinating less, and of course major illnesses like Heart & Kidney failure are the other causes for low blood sodium.

17 August, 2011 | Tanmay | Reply

Tanmay Though potassium is widely available in fruits and vegetables if you eat a highly processed diet, it is very likely that you will not get enough. Besides the recommendation is that you take in five times more potassium than sodium, but since most diets especially in America are processed they invariably are high in sodium and most people get two times more sodium than potassium.
Its therefore vital that we chose fresh produce over processed and also home cooked to eating out to get the best out of vegetables and fruits.

14 August, 2011 | Jyothi | Reply

Jyothi Hw about with the patients with low BP? Should they take high sodium diet? and what about potassium intake.....????

25 July, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar For people who have high BP,DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is best for lowering blood pressure and not potassium supplements. The DASH diet is higher in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and lower in total fat, saturated fat, and sodium than the typical American diet and make a big difference to health overall.

25 July, 2011 | Ashritha Prasad | Reply

Ashritha Prasad Both my parents are hypertensive and my grandmom died of cardiac arrest. Now I have a question, if we substitute our pure sodium chloride with potassium salt in the daily cooking can we prevent and control hypertension?

26 July, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Ashritha
Unfortunately NO!! AS the study suggests if we eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (suggested by USDA/NIN) we get more than adequate amount of potassium in our diet. Simultaneously we also get adequate fiber and other phyto nutrients that are present in the vegetables and fruits also add value to health.
There are 3 reasons why we cannot simply substitute table salt with potassium salts
1. Potassium salts if eaten in high amounts as a pure ion (not as part of natural foods) can cause injury to the gastric or intestinal mucosa. It can also be dangerous to kidney patients
2. Its bitter to taste, if eaten in high concentrations as the primary salt
3. It is much more expensive than table salt.
So in the interest of overall and continued good health it is best we add a limited of sodium salt (table salt) in our daily diet and ensure we get adequate potassium through natural foods.
Its also important that you include a good work out for around 40-45 mt sand have good life style. (as suggested by Mrinal in her reply)

25 July, 2011 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Hi Ashritha,
There are a few preventive measures you can take with your diet and lifestyle to help lower your risks -
1. Eat a balanced diet high in fiber and dietary potassium (whole grains, lentils, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables)
2. Include heart healthy fats into your diet - nuts, avocados, salmon, tuna to help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad)cholesterol.
3. Include 45 minutes of exercise 5-6 days a week.
4. Get annual checkups - BP, lipids etc
Cheers.

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Tags: Cardiovascular Disease, Diet, Fitness, Health Hazards, Healthy Lifestyle, Heart Health, Hypertension, Men's Health, Nutrition, Potassium, Renal Diseases, Sedentary Lifestyle, Seniors Health, Sodium, Ulcers

 

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