Banana or Avocado a Day Keeps Hardening Arteries Away

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Banana or Avocado a Day Keeps Hardening Arteries Away

Laurence T. Gayao, MD

Early on in my career I heard someone said, “You are only as old as your arteries.” After thinking about it, really made sense. It has been observed that ones’ arteries hardens as we get older, the medical folks refer to this as pathogenic vascular calcification or arteriosclerosis. This hardening of arteries causes high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and circulation problems especially of the lower extremities which may result in limb amputation. A new study shows how low dietary potassium is associated with development of arteriosclerosis. So now we could say, Banana or avocado a day keeps hardening arteries away.

University of Alabama of Birmingham Study

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) did a study that shows for the first time that reduced dietary potassium is associated with the development  hardening arteries in mice as compared with normal potassium feed mice. This is an important in the prevention of diseases related hardening of arteries. It also raises a red flag for those taking medications that potentially lowers potassium in the blood.

The study was lead Yabing Chen, Ph. D. UAB professor of pathology and a research career scientist. They found that that a high potassium diet inhibited vascular calcification. Cell culture showed low potassium enhanced calcification in smooth muscles cells in the walls of blood vessels which leads to its hardening. It is postulated that when the potassium in the smooth muscle is low, calcium another essential substance in the blood builds up in the smooth muscle of the blood vessels and permanently binds to it to stiffen it thus it losses its elasticity. This process is called calcification. Remember calcium is important for body function and it only does that when our blood potassium is low.

Function of potassium in the body

Potassium is an electrolyte “a substance that conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is crucial to heart functionand plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function.”

Low potassium symptoms

Symptoms of low potassium are usually mild. At times the effects of low potassium can be vague. There may be more than one symptom involving the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, kidneys, muscles, heart and nerves.

What are some common foods rich in potassium:

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Foods rich in potassium

Sweet potato

A medium baked sweet potato has 542 mg (12% DV) of potassium. These tubers are also rich in vitamin A

White potato

Surprise, surprise: A single medium baked potato has 941 mg (20% DV) of potassium.

Tomato sauce

This plain old pasta topper is a secret source of potassium, with 728 mg (15% DV) in each cup. Look for a low-sugar variety sold in BPA-free packaging.

Beets

A cup of cooked, sliced beets delivers 518 mg (11% DV) of potassium, while a 1-oz serving of beet chips has an impressive 90 mg.

White beans

White beans might be the best source of potassium in the grocery store: A single cup has 1189 mg. That’s a full quarter of what you need every day

Beets

A cup of cooked, sliced beets delivers 518 mg (11% DV) of potassium, while a 1-oz serving of beet chips has an impressive 90 mg.

Avocados

I cup, sliced (146 g) has 708 mg. It is also rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which also prevents arteriosclerosis.

Bananas

One medium banana has 422 mg. It is also is rich in multi vitamins and source of many other nutrients.

More foods with high potassium go to the website (click)

Watch this video on potassium rich foods.

Warning for those with kidney disease

Please note, if you have kidney disease please consult your physician for advice on potassium rich food intake because in kidney disease may increase your blood potassium level because of impaired excretion by the kidneys. With the retention of the potassium in the blood it may get elevated to dangerously life threatening levels.

Diet best medicine

This study highlights diet low in potassium is a major contributor  to the development arteriosclerosis and the importance of additional dietary modification to fight its progress. Again this re-enforces the idea that the right diet is the best medicine. Remember you are only as old as your arteries.

Your fitness Doc.

 

 

 

 

 

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