Q:
I heard from many health professionals various views on eating a banana a day to lower blood pressure and how it reduces the sodium in our bodies, is this true?

A:
 Bananas are a great fruit to eat daily, especially if you have high blood pressure.  It is the abundance of potassium in bananas that make them very beneficial to managing your blood pressure.  What is special about potassium?… you may ask.

Potassium affects the balance of fluids in your body; therefore it helps excrete sodium from your body, which at high levels can increase your blood pressure.  It is not only important to reduce your sodium/salt intake, but to increase your potassium in order to assure that your body rids itself of sodium.

Potassium works to reduce the water retention caused by sodium by promoting cells to excrete the water and sodium from your body – it simply works as a natural diuretic.  While bananas have high potassium, there are other foods you can and should also eat to increase your intake:  kiwi, spinach, cantaloupe, prunes, apricots, grapefruits, lots of greens etc.  To feel satisfied with your food, it is important to eat different types of food.  Luckily, when it comes to potassium and other nutrients, you have much to choose from.

Studies have revealed that a shortage of potassium is linked to high blood pressure and that most people living in countries with a high rate of high blood pressure do not get enough potassium.  American Heart Association recommends 4,700 mg/day of potassium and 1500 mg/day of sodium in order to assure an effective balance between the two.

Keep in mind that too much potassium can be harmful, especially in older people and those with kidney disorders.  As we get older, our kidneys become less able to remove potassium from our blood.  Therefore, before increasing your potassium intake or taking any over-the-counter supplements, consult your healthcare professional.