How Potassium Can Help Blood Pressure and Why You Need Bananas

High Blood Pressure in America

High blood pressure is a condition that occurs when the force of pumping blood is too intense for the walls of the arteries. With millions of Americans affected each year, it has become one of the leading causes of strokes and heart attacks. While many different factors contribute to the development of hypertension, poor dietary and lifestyle choices have been shown to be largely responsible. 


Consuming sodium in excess is the main culprit here. The typical American diet is no stranger to salty foods, leading many to exceed their recommended daily intake. Contrarily, one of the nutrients we are consistently under consuming is potassium. To be specific, we’re only getting about half of our daily value. 


Potassium Supports More than Just Heart Health


This mineral is critical for our bodies to function properly. In particular, potassium supports strong muscle health and rapid healing from injury. In case you didn’t know, your heart is one of the most important muscles in your body. 


Potassium works to relax muscular tissue for the purposes of recovery and injury prevention. In the case of high blood pressure, taking in enough of this nutrient helps ease the walls of your arteries, reducing the excessive stress they are under. Understandably, several studies have indicated a link between low potassium levels and high blood pressure, thus leading to an increased risk of stroke.


Not only does potassium work to reduce the damage caused by excess sodium consumption, but it also helps speeds up how our body processes it. Eating too many salty foods leads to a water imbalance in our bodies. Essentially, sodium sucks up the water in our cells and slowly dehydrates us. In this instance, potassium serves as a vasodilator. 


That’s a big, fancy word for blood vessel expansion. So, while sodium increases the amount of pressure our blood is putting on our arteries, potassium helps them relax in order to accommodate for the excess force. Not only does this help lessen the immense stress on your heart, but the increased volume of blood helps move the sodium out of the body faster. 


How to Get More Potassium Into Your Diet

So, now that we’ve delved into the science behind high blood pressure, here’s how to introduce the solution into your life.


It’s fairly well-known that bananas are the glorified poster child in terms of optimal sources of potassium – a title rightfully earned.


Bananas contain about 10% of our daily recommended value of potassium. That’s a fairly noteworthy amount, especially because it’s all naturally occurring. While we’re a little bit biased, bananas are pretty much the perfect fruit to incorporate into your diet.


How Else Do Bananas Help?


So, we know that they’re high in potassium, but what else do they bring to the table? 


Well, for starters, they have a relatively balanced carbohydrate content. For the number of calories in a banana, the amount of carbs that you’re taking in is completely reasonable; you get the extra dose of energy without the concern of excess carbohydrates being converted into sugar. 


Moreover, bananas have a relatively low sugar content, making them a healthy choice for those struggling with the effects of an insulin imbalance or diabetes. 


But, perhaps the most important factor of all, is that bananas hardly have any sodium in them. When you eat the fruit, you’re doing everything to help your body recover from hypertension and avoiding anything that could exacerbate it. 


With that being said, diet is only a facet of a comprehensive plan to reduce high blood pressure. Alongside what we eat, our activity levels factor heavily into our risk of hypertension. Those leading a sedentary lifestyle are also at an increased risk of high blood pressure as their heart does not get the proper stimulation it needs to stay strong and healthy.


One of the best ways to improve heart health is by incorporating more cardio into your everyday routine. Since bananas help energize the body and digest quickly, this makes them the ideal pre-workout snack. 


Sleep and Stress Is a Huge Factor in Health


Another important lifestyle factor to consider is sleeping patterns. Our muscles repair themselves while we sleep so it becomes ever so important to get a full night’s rest. As mentioned throughout, your heart is just one big muscle. While it has its variances from other muscles, it will still behave the same way as other ones in your body. 


Hypertension places a significant amount of stress on the walls of your arteries and it’s vital to repair any damage before it gets out of hand. Alongside all of their other wonderful qualities, bananas help promote healthy sleep, allowing your muscles to get the rehabilitation they need.


Bananas are packed full of tryptophan which produces a head to toe calming sensation. Tryptophan can not only help you fall asleep faster but also allows you to rest longer. This proves to be an invaluable resource when it comes to helping your heart recover. 


While physical factors contribute significantly to high blood pressure, mental factors play a role as well. 


Stress management is vital to getting hypertension under control. When you’re in a tense state, your body’s healing abilities are one of the first things to go. This is particularly problematic for those already suffering from high blood pressure as it reduces the rate at which your heart and arteries correct the damage associated with the excess force from the blood. 


Bananas can help alleviate this as they’re full of vitamins and minerals that can help balance the chemicals in your brain. In addition, this fruit has been shown to promote serotonin production which helps combat the effects of stress. Even if you aren’t able to drastically change the external factors that are causing your tension, eating a banana can help reduce the physiological response that your body experiences.


All in all, managing high blood pressure is an ongoing and multifaceted approach. By taking several steps to improve your diet, your physical activity levels, and your mental health, you can successfully manage the condition. If you’re looking for an easy way to prioritize your heart health, we encourage you to start incorporating more bananas into your diet. As a whole food, all its different components will work in their unique ways to alleviate high blood pressure. 

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