People who eat plenty of high-potassium fruits, vegetables and dairy products may be less likely to suffer a stroke than those who get little of the mineral, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that across those studies, stroke risk dipped as people's reported potassium intake went up. Potassium is an electrolyte needed for maintaining the body's fluid balance. A number of studies have suggested that diets high in potassium help maintain a healthy blood pressure and possibly protect against heart disease and stroke.
Potassium was specifically linked to reduced risk of ischemic strokes -- those caused by a blockage in an artery feeding the brain. They account for about 80 percent of strokes.
If potassium protects against ischemic stroke only, that would suggest there are reasons other than better blood pressure control, the researchers say.
Potassium helps balance the effects of sodium, keeping blood pressure down and helping the body excrete excess fluids. Certain people -- adults older than 50, African Americans, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease -- should limit sodium to 1,500 mg a day.
As for potassium, the CDC advises adults to get 4,700 mg a day from food.