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These potassium-rich foods can help prevent fatal strokes in mature women

Stroke prevention

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(NaturalNews) Strokes, which occur when there's an interruption in blood flow, are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Siteman Cancer Center.

More than 600,000 strokes plague Americans each year, taking the lives of more than 150,000 people, and 15 to 30 percent of those may suffer from a range of permanent disabilities.

Strokes affect both men and women, especially over the age of 55. Although common, you don't have to live in fear of having a stroke, as there are practices you can take to reduce your risk, including exercise, regular checkups, being a non-smoker and eating a healthy diet.

New research suggests that consuming more of a certain mineral may help reduce mature women's chances of having a stroke. Postmenopausal women who consume higher amounts of potassium-containing foods are less prone to having a stroke that results in death than those who eat fewer potassium-rich foods, according a new study published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

The analysis zeroed in on postmenopausal women in particular, with ages ranging from 50 to 79. Nearly 100,000 women in that age range were studied for an average of 11 years, scientists say. They examined how much potassium the participants consumed and whether or not they had strokes, including ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, or died during the study period.

Around 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic, a condition caused by fatty deposits that obstruct blood vessels responsible for supplying blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes, which account for just 13 percent of strokes, are the result of a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain, sometimes caused by an aneurysm, or ballooning of a blood vessel.

Eating potassium-rich foods decreased mature women's chances of stroke and death

Women who gorged on the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer stroke in general, and 16 percent less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke, compared to women who ate the least, researchers found.

Women who consumed the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least. The mineral's effect in preventing stroke depended on existing health conditions, the study found.

Women who did not have hypertension (high blood pressure), weren't on any blood pressure medications and ate high amounts of potassium were 27 percent less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke; of this group, around 21 percent had a reduced risk for all stroke types, compared to women who consumed the least potassium.

Women receiving blood pressure medications for hypertension did not receive the same benefits from consuming higher amounts of potassium. The second group had a reduced risk for death, but eating more potassium did not lower their risk for stroke, scientists say.

Only 2.8 percent of American women get enough potassium

"Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death," said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., senior author of the study.

Women are recommended to eat at least 4,700 mg of potassium daily, but fewer than 3 percent of women meet or exceed these requirements.

"Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans."

Other potassium-rich foods include dark leafy greens such as spinach, baked potatoes with skin, dried apricots and baked acorn squash. Also, plain non-fat yogurt, salmon, avocados and mushrooms offer abundant sources of potassium.

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