High blood pressure is one of the most common forms of heart disease in the United States. I have numerous patients who come into my office needing assistance with this problem. Most people diagnosed high blood pressure have been advised to reduce their salt intake. What many people do not realize is that the high sodium intake is a result of hidden salt that is found in processed foods or foods bought at restaurants or carry out establishments, not the table salt used to season their foods. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the message is that high salt and low potassium intake seems to be a combination that will put people at higher risk of heart disease and potential fatality. In the 15-year study the researchers found that people who had high sodium and low potassium diets were 50 percent more likely to die from any cause and twice as likely to die from heart disease than all the other participants in the study.
What I like about this study is that is looks at a combination of minerals instead of just looking at sodium intake. Our bodies use a combination of different minerals as co-factors in nearly all of our metabolic processes. When our body starts to move out of balance and begins to create disease processes like high blood pressure or heart disease, it is usually due to several factors occurring over a long period of time, not just one isolated mineral. The idea that just one mineral like sodium is the cause of major disease is a narrow look at how our bodies work. This study brings to light the idea that we need to look at the right balance of nutrients to keep the body in good health. One of the lead researchers recommended more servings of fresh fruit and vegetables that contain high amounts of potassium. Examples of foods that are high in potassium are also categorized as "superfoods" are sweet potatoes, spinach and oranges.
The take-away message I would like to leave you with is to focus and concentrate on a balanced approach to our nutrition: eat healthy whole foods and think about a balance of nutrients and minerals as an approach to a healthier you.