We are a few weeks into the pre-release promotion of my latest Low Sodium Cookbook For Beginners and the time has finally come to discuss heart health.
This was an inevitable and unavoidable conversation because high sodium intake is a major modifiable risk factor for hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
I appreciate that when it comes to dietary changes, different people are motivated by different things.
I know that minimizing/avoiding medication is a major motivation for many of my clients.
And this is where things get interesting.
The primary class of drugs prescribed for elevated blood pressure are known as Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
They help relax and dilate your blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure.
They also happen to be the 2nd most prescribed drug in Canadian men aged 25 to 79, who tend to consume more sodium than women where ACE inhibitors are the 5th most prescribed drug for the same age group.
The Role Of Potassium
The connection between sodium, hypertension and heart health is not purely reductionist in nature.
In other words, it’s not ONLY about lowering your sodium intake.
According to a 2011 study out of the Journal Of The American Medical Association (JAMA) the ratio of your sodium:potassium intake is an important predictor of heart disease risk.
This sentiment is echoed by the World Health Organization (WHO) who identify BOTH excessive sodium intake and insufficient potassium intake as major heart health risk factors.
A chronically high sodium intake raises blood pressure for a variety of reasons including water retention and alterations to the functionality of the vessels, arteries and parts of the nervous system that govern their functionality.
Potassium plays a similar but essentially opposite physiological role to sodium, which is why the relative intakes of these two nutrients has become such an area of emphasis in the world of heart health.
So what are we going to do about YOUR sodium:potassium intake ratio?
Emphasize Potassium Rich Foods
If you’ve been keeping up with sodium content thus far, you will know I’ve already written a piece on the top 10 sources of dietary sodium.
I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already.
They are the foods that certainly you should be consuming in different ways, which my new book will certainly help with.
My Low Sodium Cookbook For Beginners doesn’t just help you avoid sodium though, it is crafted specifically to emphasize potassium rich foods.
So now you’re probably wondering which those are?
Here are my top 8 potassium-rich food groupings with examples of the foods with the most potassium within each.
Packed With Potassium
Starchy veggies including baked potato, sweet potato & acorn squash
Seeds specifically pumpkin and squash seeds
Legumes especially kidney beans, navy means, white beans and edamame
Fish especially salmon & halibut
Leafy green veggies including beet greens, spinach and swiss chard
Fruits especially avocado, kiwi and bananas
Diary & alternatives milk, yogurt, soy milk
Fun foods like maple syrup and chocolate
So now that you know that more potassium and less sodium is a fundamental dietary shift for the betterment of your health, only one question remains.
What are you going to do with this knowledge?
That’s where my latest book comes in.
Take the thinking out of the process by relying on the expertly crafted recipes within that take all of this stuff into account for you.
Pre-order today, the book ships on August 4th!