More Potassium, Less Salt Better Combination to Prevent Heart Disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Potassium and heart disease

We Know that a low salt diet is important to control high blood pressure that leads to heart disease. According to new research from Loyola University, it seems equally as important to increase our potassium intake if we really want to reduce our risk of heart disease.

According to study author Dr. Paul Whelton, president and CEO of Loyola University Health System, "There isn't as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease."

The researchers measured average potassium and salt intake in a two-phase trial, known as the Trials of Hypertension Prevention. The first trial lasted 18 months, and the second 36 months. The researchers followed 2,974 individuals, aged 30-to-54 for a period of 10 to 15 years to determine who would develop cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that study participants with high salt content in urine samples, collected intermittently throughout the trials, had a 20% greater risk for stroke, heart attack, and other forms of heart disease. Those with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratios in their urine had a 50% increased risk of heart disease when compared to the lowest potassium to salt ratios. Potassium has the opposite effect of sodium in lowering blood pressure, making potassium an important part of our daily diet to prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure.

According to Dr. Whelton, the study "is a quantum leap in the quality of the data compared to what we have had before." Previous studies involved recollection of the study participants regarding the amount of salt in their diet, and other foods consumed during study trials. Urinary excretion of to potassium and salt is much more accurate.


Dr. Whelton has published more than 400 papers and is one of the nation's leading experts on high blood pressure.

According to the Loyola University press release,"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". Increasing potassium to the recommended level will reduce the effects of salt and lower blood pressure.

Consuming fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium, such as tuna, fat-free milk, yogurt, bananas, tomato sauce, orange juice and tuna can boost potassium levels naturally.

The use of potassium supplements, and major dietary changes should be discussed with your healthcare provider. High levels of potassium in the body can cause life-threatening electrolyte imbalances, especially for those at increased risk.

The new study clearly shows the benefit of more potassium, combined with less salt to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

Cutting Salt Isn't The Only Way To reduce Blood Pressure