People who took higher amounts of magnesium, potassium and calcium displayed lower blood pressure, a study has found.
Also, participants who consumed a daily intake of 3.2 grams of potassium combined with 3.7 grams of sodium were shown to have the lowest blood pressure.
Magnesium is an important mineral for the body since it helps calcium in bone formation, improves blood sugar level, helps nerves and muscles function, lowers blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Our body requires a relatively large amounts of magnesium.
Healthy men should take 400 to 420 mg of magnesium per day and women should take 310 to 320 mg daily (source: the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements).
Good sources of magnesium include legumes, avocados, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, and green leafy vegetables.
Calcium is another important mineral as it is responsible for strong bones and teeth, heart health, and helps blood to clot.
The recommended amounts of this nutrient for a healthy adult is about 1,000 mg per day.
Dairy such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are the main source and lentils, dried fruit, kale, broccoli, whole grains, sardines, and salmon are also sources of calcium.
Potassium is the other vital nutrient that plays a role in lowering blood pressure and improving heart, muscle, and kidney function.
Potassium and sodium are electrolytes and together are needed in maintaining fluid balance, nerve impulses and muscle contractions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a potassium consumption of at least 3,510 mg a day for adults in order to reduce the risk of CVD and stroke.
Fruits such as bananas, grapefruits, dried apricots, and prunes, vegetables like tomatoes, squash, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach are rich in potassium.
Dr Lynn L. Moore, the study’s first author, said:
“This study and others point to the importance of higher potassium intakes, in particular, on blood pressure and probably cardiovascular outcomes as well.
I hope that this research will help refocus the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans on the importance of increasing intakes of foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium for the purpose of maintaining a healthy blood pressure.”
The research followed 2,632 people for 16 years to see if low sodium intake in the diet can reduce blood pressure levels.
However, they found that eating less sodium won’t necessary lower hypertension, adding more evidence to other studies that sodium limits recommended by dietary guidelines may be incorrect.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition and an important risk factor for CVD.
The current US dietary guideline for healthy adults is less than 2.3 grams per day of sodium intake and the UK guideline for adults is less than 2.4 grams per day.
But, after the 16 years of follow-up, the study found that participants whose sodium intake was less than 2.5 grams a day had higher blood pressure than those with higher sodium diets.
Past studies found that people with either very high sodium diets or low sodium diets were at higher risk of CVD.
In contrast, people who had a middle intake of sodium in their daily foods exhibited the lowest risk of heart disease.
Dr Moore, said:
“We saw no evidence that a diet lower in sodium had any long-term beneficial effects on blood pressure.
Our findings add to growing evidence that current recommendations for sodium intake may be misguided.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published The FASEB Journal (Moore et al., 2017).