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Foods Rich in Potassium Benefit Older Women

In a large study that included more than 90,000 postmenopausal women, researchers found that women who ate the most potassium in foods had 12% less risk of stroke and 10% less risk of death than those who ate the least.

"Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables," says study co-author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death."

Potassium is found in significant amounts in foods such as bananas, potatoes and white beans. Women should eat a potassium-rich diet, as it is an essential mineral and is generally under-consumed by women.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises 4,700 mg of potassium daily for women, only about 3% of women in the study met or exceeded this level, and only about 17% met or exceeded the World Health Organization's daily recommendation of 3,510 mg or more.

"Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food," said Wassertheil-Smoller. However, researchers also warned that too much potassium could be dangerous for the heart and advised consulting with one's doctor about how much potassium to consume.

The study results are based on potassium from foods only, not supplements.

Written by El Camino Hospital health library volunteer Varsha Tickoo, MPH. She blogs at: publichealthview.wordpress.com.

For more information about eating healthy and including essential vitamins and minerals in your diet, visit the health library at El Camino Hospital. You can also make an appointment with a registered dietitian and come in to the library to discuss your personal health goals. Call 650-940-7210, or email healthlib@elcaminohospital.org for more information.

This article first appeared in the April 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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