Dietary Potassium May Prevent Artery Hardening

Bring on the bananas. A recent study has found that the benefits of potassium are much more far reaching than we had previously thought. Foods that are rich in potassium may help to protect from vascular calcification, which is otherwise known as hardening of the arteries.

Performed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, it was shown that a reduced amount of potassium caused an unwanted amount of aortic stiffness when it was tested on a mouse model in reference to the mice that received a potassium-rich diet. This type of stiffness seen in humans often leads to the onset of heart disease and potential death. As one of the leading causes of death in this country, this is something that we should be aware of.

Preventing Atherosclerosis

The knowledge of how arteries are unable to regulate the type of calcification that is the result of poor diet, stress and a sedentary lifestyle is directly combated by something like the increased amount of potassium in one's diet. Including foods rich in potassium, such as avocados and spinach, can help to prevent complications that could lead to atherosclerosis. This was explored with mice that received various levels and concentrations of potassium and the way their vascular smooth muscle cells responded as a result.

One group of mice was given a low-potassium diet which was shown to increase vascular calcification when paired with a high-fat diet. Subsequent groups were given a medium and moderate amount of potassium and another a higher amount. Those that did have some type of potassium in their diets showed decreased stiffness. The varying levels also spoke to the levels of potassium that were seen in the three different groups of mice.

The findings have important translational potential since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low-potassium intake, says the professor of nephrology Paul Sanders, M.D.

What was found in the cultures taken of cells was that there was a markedly enhanced calcification in the rats that had low or limited exposure to potassium and quite the opposite with rats that had ample amounts. It was shown that low potassium tended to increase intracellular calcium within the vascular smooth muscle cells. Blocking autophagy was shown to block calcification.

Internal Health

There are many vitamins and minerals, if taken in proper dosages and consistently, that can help to improve the internal health of the body. Coupled with mindfulness of dietary choices as well as active lifestyles they can really help thwart the onset of many physical diseases that compromise health and quality of life. Potassium is a necessary electrolyte that helps essentially with issues like blood pressure and kidney disease. The ability for it to improve the hardening calcification that takes place within cells and membranes is the principle reason why it is so effective in this way.

It's presence also does a tremendous job of helping the onset of anxiety and stress because of its positive effects on the nervous system. Incorporate as much potassium as you can into your diet for a healthy heart and betting functioning arteries.

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