A study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that a diet high in potassium may protect teenagers from high blood pressure in adulthood.
The researchers tracked the eating habits and blood pressure of 2,185 girls, aged 9–10, for up to 10 years. The first examination visits were from March 1987 through February 1988 and follow-up continued until February 1999. Longitudinal mixed models and analysis of covariance models were used to assess the effect of dietary sodium, potassium, and the potassium to sodium ratio on systolic and diastolic blood pressures throughout adolescence and after 10 years of follow-up, adjusting for race, height, activity, television/video time, energy intake, and other dietary factors.
While dietary advice has long focused on reducing salt intake, the researchers found that sodium intake had no long-term effect on the girls’ blood pressure. However, they did find that girls who ate diets high in potassium throughout adolescence had lower blood pressure than girls who ate fewer potassium-rich foods.
The researchers concluded that the beneficial effects of dietary potassium on both systolic and diastolic blood pressures suggest that consuming more potassium-rich foods during childhood may help suppress the adolescent increase in blood pressure.