Popular snack ‘slashes risk of heart attack, stroke and lowers blood pressure’


SCOFFING bananas boosts heart health, medics claim.

Cardiovascular events include potentially killer episodes such as heart attacks and strokes.

Scientists claim foods high in potassium such as avocado, salmon and bananas help lower blood pressure and cancel out the impact of consuming too much salt.

They also found women saw greater health benefits as a result than men.

Lead researcher Professor Liffert Vogt of Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Netherlands, said: “The results suggest that potassium helps preserve heart health, but that women benefit more than men.

“It is well known that high salt consumption is associated with elevated blood pressure and a raised risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“Health advice has focused on limiting salt intake but this is difficult to achieve when our diets include processed foods.

“Potassium helps the body excrete more sodium in the urine. In our study, dietary potassium was linked with the greatest health gains in women.”

The study, involving almost 25,000 older Brits, is published in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers quizzed them about their diet, measured their blood pressure, and took pee samples to see how much potassium they consumed.

Participants were then followed for the next 20 years.

Women who had the highest potassium intake were 11 per cent less likely to have heart trouble than those who ate the least.

And men saw a nine per cent drop. Overall, the risk for all adults fell by around 13 per cent if they chowed on plenty of potassium-rich foods.

Prof Vogt added: “The relationship between potassium and cardiovascular events was the same regardless of salt intake, suggesting that potassium has other ways of protecting the heart on top of increasing sodium excretion.”

The NHS warns eating too much salt contributes to high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 5g of per day.

And in the UK, health officials suggest adults have no more than 6g of salt daily.

Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “This research supports current advice that cutting down our intake of salt and eating more foods containing potassium can be the recipe for a healthier heart.

“An easy way to boost your potassium intake is by eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

“Other foods like pulses, fish, nuts, seeds and milk are also high in potassium and low in salt, so can help benefit your heart.”

Professor Vogt concluded: “Our findings indicate that a heart healthy diet goes beyond limiting salt to boosting potassium content.

“Food companies can help by swapping standard sodium-based salt for a potassium salt alternative in processed foods.”

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