Avocados And Bananas In Diet May Help Prevent Heart Disease

By Athena Chan | Oct 08, 2017 09:55 AM EDT

Scientists find that high-potassium foods protect the arteries against hardening or calcification. Such beneficial food items include avocados and bananas.

Beneficial Trend

It's undeniable that avocados are in trend of late. In fact, earlier this year, health practitioners warned avocado lovers of a condition called avocado hand where individuals sustain hand injuries from improperly preparing the fruit. A new research finds that the trending avocados as well as other high-potassium food items may be entirely beneficial to the heart.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that increased potassium consumption actually protects against vascular calcification and aortic stiffness, or the hardening of the heart's arteries.

High-Potassium Diet For Flexible Arteries

To gather their findings, scientists used apoliprotein E-deficient mice or mice that are prone to cardiovascular disease when fed with a high-fat diet. What researchers did was feed the said mice with high, normal, and low-potassium diets.

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Results show that the mice fed with low-potassium diets yielded significant vascular calcification and increased aortal stiffening compared with the mice fed with normal-potassium diets. On the other hand, the mice fed with high-potassium diets showed significantly inhibited vascular calcification and aortal stiffness.

Essentially, the mice fed with low-potassium diets had harder arteries, while mice fed with high-potassium diets had more flexible arteries.

Why Is This Important?

A Cardiovascular Health Study of over 4,000 men and women showed that 79.9 percent of individuals aged 65 or older develop arterial calcification, a predictor of cardiovascular events. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and about 610,000 people die from it every year.

The results of the study show that increasing or even maintaining a healthy amount of potassium in regular diets could play important roles in preventing vascular complications. Further, it could prove useful in potential therapies and treatments for arterial treatments and atherosclerotic vascular calcification.

The study has been published in JCI Insight.

High-Potassium Foods

Perhaps the first food items that come to mind when talking about potassium are bananas, which approximately have 425 mg of potassium per serving. Avocado also comes to mind as it, too, has a significant amount of potassium per serving.

However, there are many other food items you may want to enjoy and which can give you the health benefits of potassium and more. You could choose to eat artichokes or snack on seedless raisins if you want to, as they have 345 mg and 270 mg of potassium respectively, or you could drink a glass of fat-free milk which could give you 350 mg of potassium. Baked potato could also provide you with high amounts of potassium as one serving boasts 925 mg of potassium.

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