Bananas reduce post-menopausal stroke risk

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A recent study suggests that bananas could reduce the risk of stroke in post-menopausal females. It has found that high-potassium foods may decrease the risk by as much as 25%.

Researchers used data from a study of 90137 post-menopausal women, between the ages of 50 and 79, obtained over an 11-year period.

They considered the amount of potassium they consumed and whether they suffered strokes or died during the study. The study participants were stroke-free at the commencement of the study and their average daily intake of potassium was 2611mg.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), women should consume 3510g or more per day. Of those involved in the study, only 16.6% met or exceeded this recommendation.

The study results are based on potassium obtained from food, not supplements. A medium-sized banana is said to contain about 430mg of potassium.

Women who consumed the highest levels of potassium were found to be 12% less likely to suffer a stroke in general and were 16% less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, which occurs when the blood to the brain is stopped, than those who consumed the least.

Among the females who did not suffer from high blood pressure, those who consumed the most potassium had a 27% lower chance of ischemic stroke and 21% lower risk for all types of stroke.

Of the females suffering with hypertension, the ones who consumed the most potassium had a lower risk of death, but their potassium consumption did not lower the risk of stroke.

According to researchers, it may be more beneficial to ensure a higher dietary intake of potassium before the development of high blood pressure.

It was also discovered that women who ate the highest levels of potassium were at 10% less risk of an early death, than those who ate the least amount.

The senior author of the study, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, said these findings suggest that it is necessary for women to consume more potassium-rich foods and this will not be found in junk food. Some of the foods that contain high levels of potassium include bananas, white beans and sweet potatoes.

She warned however that too much potassium could be dangerous to the heart and people should check the levels they consume.

Image Credit: Alan Levine

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