NEW YORK – A team from the US have discovered people who have high levels of potassium in their daily diet are far less likely to suffer the deadly brain attack.
It means people could protect themselves from suffering a disability and often deadly stroke simply by ensuring they eat plenty of 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.
Dr Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, study senior author from 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 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, published in the journal Stroke, 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.
A medium-sized fresh around seven inches long contains approximately 422 milligrams of potassium.