ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
CANCER
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
CAREGIVING
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Iced Teas Pose High Risk of Kidney Stones
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Add your Article

Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk

A diet rich in foods that are loaded with potassium can reduce your risk for a stroke by 21 percent and may also lower your risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.

Good sources of potassium include bananas and other fruits and vegetables, as well as fish, poultry and dairy, the researchers noted.

And ounce per ounce, sweet potato and tomato paste top the list, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The average dietary potassium intake in most countries worldwide is much lower than recommended by health authorities, and increasing potassium intake may provide protection against stroke and other cardiovascular disorders," said lead researcher Dr. Pasquale Strazzullo, a professor of medicine at the Federico II University of Naples Medical School, in Italy.

The report is published in the March 1 online edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For the study, Strazzullo's team pulled data about potassium and cardiovascular disease from 11 studies, which included a total of 247,510 men and women. The researchers looked at what people in these studies recalled eating in the past day.

This process is called a meta-analysis, in which researchers look for trends in the data that may support a particular conclusion, even when these data were not the main point of the study.

They found that people who consumed 1.64 grams of potassium or more a day had a 21 percent lower risk of stroke and also tended to have a lower risk of any cardiovascular disease.

Strazzullo noted that five or more servings of fruits and vegetables will provide the amount of potassium needed to get this protective effect.

"The protective effect of potassium against the risk of stroke and other vascular events may in part be traced to its blood pressure-lowering effect, particularly in hypertensive individuals and in those with elevated sodium intake," Strazzullo said.

However, other processes appear to be at work as well, he added. For example, potassium may be involved in slowing the process of atherosclerosis and preventing the thickening of the walls of arteries, all of which can lead to cardiovascular disease.

"More recently, a high-potassium diet was shown to exert a protective effect against the development of vascular damage induced by excess salt intake, thus counteracting, to some extent, the dangerous effects of eating too much salt. This large body of evidence from experimental studies provides biological plausibility to the protective effect of dietary potassium against cardiovascular events," Strazzullo said.

A higher potassium intake is safe for most people, Strazzullo said, adding that there might be some concern about elevated potassium for patients with kidney failure or those taking medicines that lower potassium. In those cases, patients should speak with their doctors, he added.

Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University Medical Center, commented that "this is completely consistent with current American Heart Association dietary recommendations."

The best example is the DASH-type eating plan, which has been tested in various studies, he said. "The DASH diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and nuts, moderate in low-fat dairy products, low in sodium and high in potassium. The effect on stroke is likely mediated, at least in part, through lower blood pressure," Goldstein said.

Another expert, Dr. Gregg Fonarow, spokesman for the American Heart Association and professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, added that "clinical trials have established that a diet high in potassium and low in sodium can significantly lower blood pressure."

Because high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke, it follows that higher-potassium diets would be linked to lower risk of stroke and heart attacks, he said.

"However, a higher-potassium diet potentially has other mechanisms of benefit, including protecting blood vessels from oxidative damage and limiting thickening of the blood vessel wall," Fonarow said.

Increasing potassium in the diet while limiting sodium may help to reduce the risk of stroke and confer other cardiovascular benefits, he said. "Fruits such as bananas, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, vegetables like tomatoes and low-fat dairy products are a good source of dietary potassium," he said.

More information

For more information on the best sources of potassium, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Pasquale Strazzullo, M.D., professor, medicine, Federico II University of Naples Medical School, Italy; Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., professor, medicine, and director, Duke Stroke Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., spokesman, American Heart Association, and professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; March 1, 2011, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online