NEW YORK (MainStreet) – The government wants you to eat more bananas. And while you’re at it, take it easy on the salt.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have completed a study based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, that assessed the health and dietary habits of Americans. What the CDC found was that those Americans with diets high in sodium and low in potassium had a 50% increased risk of death, and the risk of heart attacks doubled.
Of course, it’s hardly news that excessive sodium is bad for you, although a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association did cast doubt on the consensus that high salt intake invariably led to heart disease.
Potassium, meanwhile, is associated with various health benefits, including regulating blood pressure and fighting stress. Still, the statistics presented here suggest that you can greatly reduce your general risk of death simply by eating more potassium rich foods like bananas and cutting your sodium intake to recommended levels. Doing so, says the CDC, will improve your blood pressure, which brings with it a host of other heart-healthy benefits.
So what do those recommended levels look like? The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a potassium intake of 4,700 mg per day, which amounts to about ten Chiquita bananas; fortunately, a number of other foods, including spinach and citrus fruits, are also rich in potassium. Meanwhile, the recommended sodium intake for most Americans is 2,300 mg per day and just 1,500 if you’re older, African-American or have diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease. Unfortunately, that sodium benchmark is a distant goal for many Americans, as the CDC notes that the average American consumes 3,300 mg per day, 80% of it from packaged foods and restaurant meals.
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