The Nutrient Women Need to Avoid a Stroke

This mineral can significantly help maintain health — especially for women

By Beth Howard  Grandparents.com May 15, 2018

Banana image from Next Avenue.

Quick: Which foods are rich in potassium? If you’re drawing a blank, and particularly if you’re a woman, you could be missing out on important protection from stroke. That’s especially true for ischemic stroke — the type caused by a blockage in a blood vessel supplying the brain.

Women are more likely than men to have a stroke and to die from it, but a study of more than 90,000 women ages 50 to 70 from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that those who consumed the highest amounts of potassium in their diet were least likely to experience a stroke.

Potassium-rich diets reduced stroke risk in general by 12 percent and the risk of ischemic stroke by 16 percent.

The benefit was even greater among women who did not have hypertension, or high blood pressure. In this subset of women, high potassium levels lowered the risk for all types of strokes by 21 percent and by 27 percent for ischemic stroke, compared to women with hypertension.

Other research has linked high potassium levels to lower blood pressure, which helps prevent stroke. But the study showed that potassium itself reduces stroke risk. “We think the beneficial effects act through other pathways, beyond the effects on blood pressure,” says study author Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, an epidemiologist at Albert Einstein and a principal investigator with the Women’s Health Initiative.

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