Most previous studies of the relationship between sodium or potassium and cardiovascular disease have had to rely on people's recall or record of what foods they eat to estimate their level of sodium consumption. This is a less precise measure of sodium intake than urine samples. In addition, many have been cross-sectional rather than follow-up studies.
The new study "is a quantum leap in the quality of the data compared to what we have had before," Whelton said.
Whelton was a member of a recent Institute of Medicine panel that set dietary recommendations for salt and potassium. The panel said healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day -- equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt. More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.
To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake. Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half as much as recommended in the Institute of Medicine report. Changes in diet and physical activity should be under the supervision of a health care professional.
Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish. Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice. Potassium also is available in supplements.
|Contact: Jim Ritter|
Loyola University Health System