The Role Potassium Plays to Lower Blood Pressure

By:  Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager

When it comes to lowering blood pressure, most of us know we should eat less sodium, lose weight, and exercise.  However, getting enough potassium in our diets is often overlooked.

How does potassium help lower blood pressure?  It has two main functions:

  1. The more potassium we consume, the more sodium is excreted through urine and out of the body, and
  2. Potassium helps relax blood vessel walls, which helps lower blood pressure.

For these reasons, along with eating less sodium, it is recommended that most adults eat 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.  A word of caution, if you have kidney disease, please talk to your doctor before eating more potassium.

To get more potassium from you diet:

  • Eat 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  All fruits and vegetables have some potassium.  The highest in potassium are Sweet Potatoes, Greens, Spinach, Lima Beans, Peas, Bananas, Tomatoes, Oranges and Orange Juice, Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons, Raisins and Dates.
  • Eat 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free Milk or Yogurt per day.
  • Eat Fish 2 to 3 times a week.

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month and Stroke Awareness Month.  Set a goal today to get your blood pressure under control by eating less sodium and more POTASSIUM!

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