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Back-to-School Bananas


Potassium Linked to Lower Blood Pressure in Adolescents

Though it may seem as if the summer just started, September is here and it’s time for kids to head back into the classroom. They have the folders, notebooks, binders and pens, but should you add bananas to that back-to-school shopping list? Maybe so for better health—one study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests eating potassium-packed foods like bananas during adolescence may help keep blood pressure low later in life.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and University of Colorado School of Medicine followed 2,185 girls initially aged nine to ten years for a period of ten years. Throughout the study, researchers annually measured the girls’ blood pressures and assessed their diets. By the end of the study when the girls were 17 to 21 years old, the girls had got the most potassium in their diets ended up having blood pressures an average 1.2/1.2 mm Hg lower than the girls who got the least potassium. Interestingly, sodium intake had no significant effect on blood pressure, suggesting potassium may be the more important nutrient to watch, especially during adolescence.

Though the differences in blood pressures between groups were not huge, keeping a lower blood pressure early in life may help prevent hypertension, which increases risk of heart attack and stroke, down the line. Plus, adopting healthy eating habits at a young age, like including high-potassium fruits and vegetables with every meal, typically translates to better dietary choices throughout adulthood.

Fruits and vegetables provide some of the best sources of potassium you can eat. Bananas (8% daily value for one medium banana), baked potatoes with skin (26% DV for one medium potato), cooked spinach (12% DV for ½ cup), acorn squash (13% DV for ½ cup) and kiwi (16% DV for one cup) are all top choices that kids and teens will enjoy. Bake potato “fries” in the oven, add spinach to pasta, sneak mashed squash into muffins and enjoy kiwi with yogurt. Our Oven Baked Banana Fries with Creamy Avocado Dip makes a tasty snack and an easy way to get 12% of your daily potassium.

BONUS: Potassium is important during all stages of life. A study published by the American Heart Association found postmenopausal women who got the most potassium in their diets had up to 30% lower risk of stroke compared with women who got the least potassium.

Published July 1, 2022

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