Will postassium help after excess salt consumption?
February 1, 2007 3:19 AM   Subscribe

Will eating foods heavy in potassium help after consuming too much salty food?

I am trying to cut down on my salt intake because my blood pressure is hovering between normal and borderline high. But it seems like everthing I love to eat has tons of salt and I keep slipping up and having chicken soup or sushi.

I've heard that potassium is good for blood pressure and dealing with bloating from too much salt. Is there any truth to that?

Will drinking a lot of water help?

I'm not trying to use this as a license to eat tons of salt and I take pretty good care of my body in general.
posted by Melsky to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Some info on potassium and blood pressure. Also, the Uk goverment has an entire website about salt(!) with some tips on cooking without salt.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:14 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

As far as I know, the only salt in sushi is the soy sauce, and pretty much every sushi restaurant has low-sodium versions if you ask.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:12 AM on February 1, 2007

Fruits and vegetables are good for your blood pressure, that is true. They are also rich in potassium. I read in Walter Willett's Eat Drink and Be Healthy that eating 9 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day considerably lowers blood pressure, I think it was even comparable to blood pressure lowering meds.

If you eat lots of salt, you will want to drink more water, but that will not help your blood pressure. Be aware that even low sodium soy sauce is still quite high in sodium (1 tbsp has 600 mg, vs 900 mg for the regular version).
posted by davar at 6:16 AM on February 1, 2007

The human body has developed amazing ways to shed "excess" potassium and store lots of sodium because our diets historically contained lots of the former and not much of the latter.

I am neither doctor nor dietician.

You should keep your sodium intake around where your doctor has recommended, and increase your potassium intake, through fresh fruits and vegetables. Not enough potassium is bad, in much the same way that too much sodium is bad. Please note that you need to be restricting your Sodium intake, not just your "salt" intake. Sodium shows up in a lot of foods that you don't think of as salty.

Here's an animation from the people at Brooks Cole that shows how sodium and potassium work together to move things across cell barriers. This process affects blood pressure.
posted by bilabial at 6:18 AM on February 1, 2007

What you're looking for is a magic pill to make it all better after you use too much sodium. I'm sorry, but there is no such thing.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:11 AM on February 1, 2007

Is a medical professional telling you to decrease your sodium intake, or is it your own idea? The link between sodium intake and hypertension is not as well established as some would have you believe.

FWIW, I'm hypertensive, and my last few doctors have said not to worry about sodium in isolation but rather to focus on overall nutrition. It sounds like some people take "no salt" to mean that you can, nay should, comsume all the unsalted French fries you can eat....
posted by backupjesus at 9:09 AM on February 1, 2007

Drinking a lot of water won't help. Your kidneys and brain work together to keep your sodium and potassium levels constant, no matter what you do.

Watch the potassium--I've heard stories of people being told to cut back on salt, so they just salt their foods with tons of potassium salts, and this can lead to badness.

I'd speak with your doctor about it--he or she can give you better advice knowing your other medical problems.
posted by gramcracker at 9:45 AM on February 1, 2007

Steven C. Den Beste: What you're looking for is a magic pill to make it all better after you use too much sodium. I'm sorry, but there is no such thing.

[IANAD; however, I am a patient of one who explains things to me] Actually, one of the several effects of ACE inhibitors like Zestoretic is to increase aldosterone, which makes the kidneys more efficient at getting rid of sodium. For those with hypertension linked to sodium intake, it's effective at keeping a handful of smoked almonds from spiking your BP. (Not that hypertensives should be pushing it like that, of course.)
posted by aught at 10:23 AM on February 1, 2007

What I meant was that the OP is looking for the food equivalent of a medieval "indulgence", something along the lines of "I can eat as many salted potato chips as I want as long as I eat a couple of bananas later." It doesn't work like that.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:29 AM on February 1, 2007

Be careful. My dad was eating 2 bananas a day for years and one day, we ran out of bananas and no one wanted to go to the store. He felt kinda sick because of the sudden potassium drop.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:56 PM on February 1, 2007

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