FRIDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- A diet rich in foods that are loaded with potassium can reduce your risk for a stroke by 21 percent and may also lower your risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.
Good sources of potassium include bananas and other fruits and vegetables, as well as fish, poultry and dairy, the researchers noted.
And ounce per ounce, sweet potato and tomato paste top the list, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"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," said lead researcher Dr. Pasquale Strazzullo, a professor of medicine at the Federico II University of Naples Medical School, in Italy.
The report is published in the March 1 online edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
For the study, Strazzullo's team pulled data about potassium and cardiovascular 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.
This process is called a meta-analysis, in which researchers look for trends in the data that may support a particular conclusion, even when these data were not the main point of the study.
They 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 cardiovascular disease.
Strazzullo 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 in
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