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Bananas, avocados lower risk of heart disease

A new study shows that a diet of potassium-rich foods reduces the risk of hardened arteries and can prevent heart attack and stroke.
One banana has 425 mg of potassium. Photo: ISTOCK

Potassium-rich foods like bananas and avocados are good for your muscles and kidneys, help regulate your heartbeat, and now new research shows they may also help lower the risk of heart disease. 

A new study from the University of Alabama-Birmingham found that regular potassium intake can help prevent pathogenic vascular calcification, (hardening of the arteries), one of the causes of heart attack and stroke. 

Researchers fed mice varying levels of potassium and examined their arteries, and found that the mice on a reduced potassium diet were more likely to develop hardened arteries and experience aortal stiffness. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a serving of at least 3500 mg of potassium daily. That may sound like a lot, but good levels of potassium are present in a wide variety of foods. One banana has 425 mg, a cup of sliced avocado, 708 mg, and just a half cup of spinach, 420 mg.

Here are more tips for a heart healthy diet, including foods high in unsaturated fat, such as avocados, beans and nuts.