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How to easily satisfy your salt cravings without damaging your health

Could potassium fortification be the answer we're looking for when it comes to battling our unhealthy addiction to salt?

By Graham Lawton

5 June 2024

New Scientist. Science news and long reads from expert journalists, covering developments in science, technology, health and the environment on the website and the magazine.

Millions of people eat too much salt. Could potassium be the answer?

Lisa Sheehan

I have high blood pressure and have been taking medicine to control it for years. It recently spiked again and my doctor tweaked my prescription. But I have also been taking matters into my own hands, limiting how much salt I eat, plus a bit of self-medication with an off-the-shelf supplement. My blood pressure is back under control.

You might think that it was the medication and my salty sacrifice that did the trick. They almost certainly played a part. But my supplement of choice – potassium – may have actually done the heavy lifting.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the world’s most common cause of death. And while there is little doubt that excess dietary salt (sodium chloride) can elevate blood pressure and that most people would benefit from eating less, many of us struggle to do so. We urgently need a better solution, and growing evidence suggests we may have one in potassium.

“Potassium is really important,” says Bruce Neal at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia. “There’s no doubt that potassium will lower blood pressure.”

Understanding exactly how it works, how much we should consume and its effect on blood pressure is of growing interest to researchers, who are starting to realise the huge…

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