Bananas and potassium-heavy veg 'cut stroke risk'

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Martyn Fisher

BY MARTYN FISHER

Bananas and potassium-heavy veg 'cut stroke risk'

US researchers 'discover' that people with high levels of potassium in their daily diet are far less likely to suffer deadly brain attack

Bananas and potassium-heavy veg 'cut stroke risk'

Sweet potatoes could help keep a stroke at bay, new research claims to have found

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Enjoying a diet packed with bananas, sweet potatoes and other potassium-rich foods can dramatically lower the risk of stroke, according to new research.

The team of researchers from the US has claimed that people with high levels of potassium in their daily diet are far less likely to suffer the deadly brain attack.

If their study results are correct, it would mean people could protect themselves from suffering a disability-inducing or deadly stroke simply by having a diet rick in bananas, white and sweet potatoes, and white beans.

The research, carried out in post-menopausal women, showed that those who ate the most potassium were 12 per cent less likely to suffer stroke in general, and 16 per cent less likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke than those who ate the least.

Eating the most potassium also made them 10 per cent less likely to die, the researchers found.

Dr Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, the study's senior author, who is based at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, said: "Previous studies have shown that potassium consumption may lower blood pressure. But whether potassium intake could prevent stroke or death wasn't clear.

"Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death."

Researchers studied 90,137 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79, for an average of 11 years.

They looked at how much potassium the women consumed, as well as if they had a stroke, including ischaemic and haemorrhagic, or died during the study period.

Women in the study were stroke-free at the start, and their average dietary potassium intake was 2,611 milligrams a day from food, not supplements.

The researchers also found that, among women whose blood pressure was normal and were not on any high blood pressure drugs, those who ate the most potassium had a 27 per cent lower ischaemic stroke risk and 21 per cent reduced risk for all stroke types, compared to women who ate the least potassium in their daily diets.

Among women with high blood pressure or who were taking drugs for the condition, those who ate the most potassium had a lower risk of death, but potassium intake did not lower their stroke risk.

The researchers suggest that higher dietary potassium intake may be more beneficial before high blood pressure develops.

They also said there was no evidence of any association between potassium intake and haemorrhagic stroke, which could be related to the low number of haemorrhagic strokes in the study.

Dr Wassertheil-Smoller added: "Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans."

But they warned that, although increasing potassium intake is probably a good idea for most older women, there are some people who have too much potassium in their blood, which can be dangerous to the heart.

"People should check with their doctor about how much potassium they should eat," she said.

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