About The Buzz: Not Eating Enough Potassium Can Double Your Chances of Dying From A Heart Attack?

TheBUZZ: Not eating enough potassium can double your chances of dying from a heart attack?

Eating a high-sodium, but low-potassium diet has been linked to a 50% increased risk of death from heart attacks.


The number of people in the United States who are classified as hypertensive (having high blood pressure) and prehypertensive is growing each day! Currently, 65 million Americans have hypertension (31%), 45 million Americans have prehypertension, and the blood pressure levels in children are on the rise. What are the culprits? Eating a diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium … and getting too little exercise!

One teaspoon of salt has 2,400 mg of sodium, which means one teaspoon can meet your daily recommendation of less than 2,300 mg per day (1,500 mg for some populations)! Most Americans consume way over the recommendation due to the high-sodium content in processed foods, fast foods, eating many meals outside of the home, and consuming too few fruits and vegetables.

Potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, have long been recommended as a dietary defense against heart disease and other chronic illnesses. A potassium-rich diet blunts the effects of salt on blood pressure due to sodium and potassium’s interchangeable relationship in the body.

Potassium Recommendations

Age Group



1-3 years
4-8 years
9-13 years
Adolescents & Adults

3,000 mg
3,800 mg
4,500 mg
4,700 mg

A new study has found that consuming diets high in sodium, but low in potassium can increase your risk of a heart attack and other diseases related to having hypertension even more than just consuming a diet high in sodium alone!


A recent study conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and Harvard University followed the diet of 12,000 U.S. adults 20 years and older for a period of 14 years. The study found that people who ate a lot of sodium and very little potassium were more than twice as likely to die from a heart attack. A dietary imbalance of the two minerals posed the greatest risk than simply eating too much salt because potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of salt.*


The take home message? Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and other potassium-rich foods, and eat less salty, overly processed foods!

Being aware of the salt content in foods and making sure you’re getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily is a great way to begin making changes!

Here are some quick changes you can start making today …

    • Replace some of your processed cookies and sweets with fruits
    • Remember, most fruits and vegetables are considered low-salt or salt-free foods
    • Learn how to read food labels
    • Purchase lower sodium options (such as lower sodium V8 juice) of your favorite foods
    • Try some of our Healthy Menus for diets that meet both your potassium and sodium recommendation!
    • Learn how to put together your own healthy diet—rich in fruits & veggies!
    • Pack a banana, apricots, or cherries for a mid-morning snack


*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “High Sodium, Low Potassium Diet Linked to Increased Risk of Death.” Last modified July 11, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0711_sodiumpotassiumdiet.html.


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