Study: Potassium helps reduce blood pressure
May 27, 1997
Web posted at: 11:09 p.m. EDT (0309 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Is your blood pressure too high? Try
eating more bananas.
At least that's what a new study recommends. High levels of
potassium also can be obtained in pill form or by eating
other foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruit, milk and
"The existing body of evidence ... favors the notion that
potassium supplementation should be considered as part of
recommendations for prevention and treatment of
hypertension," wrote Paul Whelton, formerly with the Johns
Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Whelton, now at Tulane University School of Public Health,
pooled the results from 33 random, controlled trials with
2,609 participants that focused on the effect of potassium
Potassium appeared to be particularly effective among African
Americans and people who ingest a lot of salt, which can
elevate blood pressure, Whelton wrote in the Journal of the
American Medical Association.
"It really adds one other major element to the ability to
prevent and treat high blood pressure, and I think these data
are more convincing than any other data that has been
presented to date," Whelton said.
The researchers recommend that people try to get potassium
through their diet first, with six servings of potassium-rich
foods every day or 250 milligrams of a supplement.
Only a few participants in two of the trials suffered adverse
effects from taking potassium in pill form, primarily
abdominal pain, belching and flatulence. In another study,
some patients had problems such as red blood in stools,
nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
Researchers say it's a good idea to consult a doctor before
going on a regimen of high potassium, and warn against
stopping blood pressure medication without your physician's
"This gives us hope that we can potentially prevent and
reduce morbidity and do it through dietary and lifestyle
means," Dr. Lawrence Appel of Johns Hopkins Medical
Doctors say the best way to control blood pressure is to lose
weight, cut back on salt, drink in moderation, exercise and
maintain a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables,
particularly those containing plenty of potassium.
Correspondent Eugenia Halsey and Reuters contributed to this
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