For years we have been told to avoid sodium to reduce our chance of developing strokes. New research is now showing that we can have more of something to protect us against strokes; that something is potassium.

Potassium is a mineral that works in the body by allowing proper muscle and nerve functions as well as to promote proper fluid balance. It does this by working as an ‘electrolyte’ in the body, this means that it helps to conduct electrical charges within the body; other electrolytes include sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium. The most common signs of potassium deficiency include muscle weakness, tiredness or cramping, heart palpitations and also faintness since potassium helps regulate blood pressure.

The value of potassium in women’s cardiovascular health was recently highlighted. A large study published in the September 2014 issue of the medical journal Stroke tracked the cardiovascular health of over 90,000 women over 50 years of age. The eleven year study examined the relationship of dietary potassium intake with risk of stroke. It found that women who consumed the highest levels of potassium had a significantly reduced risk of getting a stroke. It also found these high-potassium consuming women to have a reduced risk of mortality from any cause. The amazing aspect of the study is that it clearly proved the huge value of eating a high-potassium containing diet for reducing stroke risk in post-menopausal women.

One of the problems in our diet is that we tend to consume an excess of sodium and an inadequate amount of potassium. These two minerals are closely related and both affect blood pressure. In our society where there tends to be a lot of eating out and eating fast, processed food, these are the types of food that are high in sodium – this mineral promotes high blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke. Now we have proof that we really need to be increasing the foods that have a higher level of potassium and reducing the foods that are high in sodium salt.

Food Sources of Potassium

Bananas are one commonly known excellent source of potassium-containing foods, but did you know that there are at least 20 other foods that are even better sources of potassium? Overall, the best sources of dietary potassium come from the produce section of grocery stores and markets, that’s right, from fruits and vegetables. Note that only 5% of Americans consume the recommended daily amount of vegetables and fruits, so that means most people just don’t get enough potassium.

Other great sources of potassium include Swiss chard, spinach, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, onions, most beans (eg: lima, soy, pinto, lentils, etc.), bell peppers, sweet potatoes and potatoes.

Make sure to get enough of these foods in everyday and you can improve your overall health now and prevent serious health problems in the future.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or