Salty Diet with Little Potassium Poses Big Health Risks

Here’s a good reason to swap those salty tortilla chips for a banana: Americans who consume high amounts of sodium and little potassium have a 50 percent increased risk of death – from any cause.

They also have twice the risk of death from heart attacks, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Harvard University, is the first one to examine the association between death and how much sodium and potassium people consume using a nationally representative data sample, according to a CDC news release.

“The study’s findings are particularly troubling because U.S. adults consume an average of 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, more than twice the current recommended limit for most Americans,” said Dr. Elena Kuklina, an investigator on the study in the news release.  “This study provides further evidence to support current public health recommendations to reduce sodium levels in processed foods, given that nearly 80 percent of people’s sodium intake comes from packaged and restaurant foods.” Kuklina is also a nutritional epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

New federal dietary guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. But nearly half the nation’s population should keep it below 1,500 milligrams, according to the CDC. This applies to anyone 51 years of age or older, African Americans and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

To add potassium to your diet, eat leafy greens, grapes, blackberries, carrots, potatoes and citrus fruits.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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