Adding potassium and subtracting sodium may equal better heart health

There continues to be some debate about the importance of reducing dietary salt to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. But a study published online Nov. 13, 2021, by The New England Journal of Medicine strongly suggests that limiting sodium and increasing potassium intake leads to better heart and blood vessel health.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from six studies, which together included more than 10,000 healthy adults. Levels of sodium and potassium in periodic urine samples were used to determine the relative amounts of these chemicals in the participants’ diets (higher urine levels correlate with greater intake of sodium and potassium). Researchers looked to see who went on to experience a heart attack or stroke or had a procedure to open a clogged artery over a median follow-up period of 8.8 years. During that time, 571 of the participants experienced one of these cardiovascular events.

After controlling for other risk factors, the researchers found that for every extra 1,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium detected in the urine, there was an 18% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. For every extra 1,000 mg of potassium in the urine, there was an 18% decrease in risk.

The study shows the importance of taking steps to reduce your sodium intake. As long as you have normal kidney function, it should also nudge you to incorporate more potassium-rich foods into your diet. Good choices include bananas, leafy greens, dairy products, and beans.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NIV

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19 NIV

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:24 NIV

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 NIV

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV

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