Hypertension or high blood pressure (above 130/80 according to the American Heart Association AHA) represents a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases. In Mexico, hypertension is considered relevant because a quarter of the population suffers from it. Besides, cardiovascular diseases are one of the main causes of death in the country.
In order to lower hypertension rates, the guidelines released by AHA recommend increasing potassium consumption. The more potassium present in the diet, the lower the blood pressure and further risk of hypertension and stroke.
The World Health Organization (WHO) refers that potassium consumption is insufficient worldwide. The protective value that a sufficient quantity provides may be a cost-effective strategy to reduce the burden and mortality of this disease.
The following are good sources of potassium:
- Beans (black, fava or white), lentils and chickpeas (pulses)
- Peanuts, nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Low-fat yogurt or milk
- Spinach, cabbage, parsley
- Tomato, sweet pepper, beet
- Banana, dates, figs
- Raisins, prunes
Food processing reduces potassium availability, so a diet high in processed products and low in the items mentioned above is generally low in potassium. A high level of potassium also seems to reduce the negative effect of sodium on high blood pressure, which is associated to a lower cardiovascular risk.
The guidelines refer that a minimum potassium consumption of 1,380 mg per day seems to reduce blood pressure around 4 to 5 mm Hg in people with hypertension. WHO recommends consuming at least 1,000 mg daily to reduce high blood pressure, and up to 3,000 mg for a greater benefit. Eating 4 to 5 portions of fruits or vegetables is equivalent to around 1,500 to 3,000 mg of potassium.
Secretaría de Salud. Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2016. Available from: http://oment.uanl.mx/descarga/ensanut_mc2016.pdf
United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Available from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list
Whelton PK, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Hypertension. 2017
World Health Organization. Guideline: Potassium intake for adults and children. WHO Library, 2012. Available from: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guidelines/potassium_intake_printversion.pd