Most doctors will tell you that too much salt causes high blood pressure. They’ll tell you that it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. And the mainstream media loves to scare you into thinking that “salt” causes all sorts of health problems.
It is true that Americans consume too much sodium. In fact, the average person consumes about twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium. But the real problem is not about salt. It is a lack of potassium that should really concerns us.
The average American consumes only about half the recommended amount of potassium. And most experts believe the RDA for this essential mineral is already too low. That means we’re not getting nearly the amount of potassium we need.
Potassium is essential for nerve transmission. It helps to regulate the fluid balance in your body. It is critical for both voluntary and involuntary muscle function. It assists protein and carbohydrate metabolism. It also helps to regulate your blood pressure.
But even more important than consuming the right amount of sodium and potassium is the relative ratio between the two. This ratio is so important it has been called the “vitality ratio.”
A recent study looked at the effects of sodium and potassium on our health.1 The researchers analyzed over 12,000 adults. Then they followed up with them for nearly 15 years.
The results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that a high ratio of sodium to potassium is associated with heart disease. It’s also associated with a significant increase in death from all causes.
The American Medical Association (AMA) found the results to be so compelling that they issued a statement in support. The AMA urged the government to issue new public health recommendations. According to the AMA, these recommendations “should emphasize the simultaneous reduction in sodium and increase in potassium intake.”
Researchers from Johns Hopkins performed another study. They looked at the results of 33 different studies. Each one was related to potassium and blood pressure. They found that optimal potassium levels are clearly associated with healthy blood pressure levels.
Another review of studies appeared in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension. This study showed a link between potassium and a healthy heart. Those who got the most potassium in their diets had the healthiest blood pressure levels. They also had the least risk of heart disease.
So How Can You Improve Your “Vitality Ratio”?
The key is to reduce the sodium you consume while increasing potassium. Here’s how:
- Eliminate processed foods. Many processed foods contain huge amounts of sodium. At the same time, most of these foods have little potassium. The more processed foods you eat, the higher your ratio of sodium to potassium (and the worse your health) will be.
- Eat more whole, natural foods. Fruits and vegetables have an ideal sodium to potassium ratio. Foods that are especially rich in potassium include beans, nuts, lentils, Swiss chard, spinach and cremini mushrooms.
- Forget bananas. Eat avocados! Despite what banana growers want you to believe, bananas are not the best source of potassium. A typical banana gives you just 420 mg of potassium. That means you would have to eat more than 10 bananas daily (that’s more than 140 grams2 of sugar!) to get the amount of potassium recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Eat avocados instead. They provide three times more potassium (and none of the sugar).
- Add real salt to your diet. The producers of commercial table salt remove all the trace minerals and sell them to industry. Then they add bleaching agents and other chemicals to keep the salt from caking. Instead, use an unrefined sea salt that contains a variety of trace minerals (including potassium). Celtic Sea Salt is a good brand.
- Season with herbs and spices. By adding flavorful herbs and spices to your foods, you won’t need to add as much salt to your food.
By following these recommendations, you should be able to easily optimize your sodium to potassium ratio. This will help to improve your blood pressure… and it will do a lot more for your health than simply “cutting back on salt.”[Ed. Note: If you’re looking for simple, specific ways you can keep your heart healthy… You’ll be interested to know that one powerful vitamin may lower your risk of heart disease. The American College of Cardiology studied 9,400 subjects. Most were deficient in this critical vitamin. Patients that added this vitamin to their diet cut their risk of heart attack by 33 percent. Discover how you can make a drastic impact on your heart health right here.]