We always hear doctors talk about the importance keeping our blood pressure at a healthy level, but you may have wondered why exactly. Basically, blood pressure is the amount of force the blood exerts as it is transported through your body’s network of blood vessels, which includes arteries, veins, and capillaries. High blood pressure is harmful to your body because it makes both your heart and blood vessels work harder (via the American Heart Association).
One of the most common causes of high blood pressure is the buildup of bad cholesterol along the walls of your vessels. The more buildup — or plaque — there is, the harder your heart has to work; and this condition can lead to a heart attack or stroke The trouble with high blood pressure is that, for the most part, there are no symptoms. The headaches, shortness of breath, or nose bleeds people talk about don’t happen all the time, and if they do, it’s not until the problem has become more serious (via Mayo Clinic).
Now some better news: Your diet plays an enormous role in the health of your heart — and you can help keep your blood pressure low simply by adding more potassium to your daily meal plan.
Why potassium helps lower your blood pressure
Doctors suggest it’s beneficial to add foods that are rich in potassium to your daily diet to help lower blood pressure (via Harvard Medical School). While potassium is a critical mineral which, on a day-to-day basis, is important to keep your muscles functioning normally, it also works to help your blood vessels relax, lowering your blood pressure as a result.
The recommended potassium consumption for an average adult is 4,700 milligrams daily (via the American Heart Association). Luckily, the nutrient can be found in plenty of tasty vegetables, such as potatoes, tomato, leafy greens like broccoli, and beans. It’s also in dairy products like yogurt, and seafood, including salmon and clams. And two of the best sources? A medium banana contains 420 milligrams; and a half-cup of mashed sweet potatoes has 475 milligrams.
Given that potassium is in so much of the things that are good for you and taste yummy, you’re really spoiled for choice — making it easy to get enough potassium, keeping your blood pressure in check and your heart healthy.
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