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Cutting back on sodium can be one way to lower high blood pressure. Now there's another drug-free way you can reduce your numbers: adding potassium to your diet. What really helps is simultaneously cutting back on your sodium intake while consuming more potassium-rich foods. For the greatest benefits, limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day and get at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium. You should also avoid processed foods if you're watching your blood pressure. "When foods are processed, often sodium is added, increasing our risk for hypertension," says Bethany Thayer, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Thayer also cautions against taking potassium supplements unless recommended by your doctor. Some people, those with kidney ailments, for example, have difficulty clearing high levels of potassium from the body, which can make their heart slow -- or stop. Check with your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes, particularly if you're already being treated for high blood pressure.Potassium Power
|1 baked sweet potato||694 mg|
|1 small baked potato||610 mg|
|8 ounces nonfat yogurt||580 mg|
|3 ounces halibut, cooked||490 mg|
|1 banana||422 mg|
|1 cup milk||380 mg|
|3 ounces lean center rib pork loin, roasted||371 mg|
|1 cup cantaloupe||368 mg|
|1 cup orange juice||355 mg|
|1 cup oatmeal||120 mg|
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, September 2007.