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How sodium, potassium affect your health | Health

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How sodium, potassium affect your health
Health
How sodium, potassium affect your health

A new study shows that a diet high in sodium and low in potassium doubles the risk of dying from a heart attack and is associated with a 50% increased risk of death from any cause.  The study recorded the diet of 12,000 U.S. adult men and women 20 years and older over a 14-year period.  A dietary imbalance of the two minerals posed the greatest risk than simply eating too much salt because potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of salt.  The results strengthen past studies and research showing a relationship between sodium intake and mortality.

The research was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and Harvard University, and published in the American Medical Association’s Journal Archives of Internal Medicine released on July 11, 2011.  

The researchers noted, “hypertension is the leading global risk factor for death, affecting almost 1 billion people,” and commented that “encouraging consumption of unprocessed, potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is the safest and preferred pathway to increasing potassium intake.” 

“We’ve known that hypertension has been linked with diets too high in sodium and too low in potassium, but to have this level of confidence about the role of the sodium/potassium ratio on increased risk of both cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality is significant,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) the nonprofit entity in partnership with CDC behind the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® national public health initiative. “Eating a plant-based diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables is a healthful way to manage low levels of sodium and high levels of potassium, thereby helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and promote overall health.”

Fruits and vegetables are available year-round in fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice forms, are affordable, and easy to prepare.  A wide variety of information, tools, and resources on fruits and vegetables, including a nutrition database, recipes, and videos can be found on the consumer-friendly website, www.FruitsandVeggiesMoreMatters.org.

For more information on the Sodium and Potassium Intake: Mortality Effects and Policy Implications study, read Volume 171 (No. 13) July 11, 2011 journal online at Archives of Internal Medicine, a bimonthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by AMA

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