Hypertension is becoming more common in children. In a prior post we discussed how this has been happening. Specifically, hypertension is often unnoticed because the way hypertension is determined in children is different than in adults. But, the good new is that high potassium foods should correct primary childhood hypertension, just as it does for adults. A recent medical article (1) had more evidence for correcting childhood hypertension.
In this case, the report studied 335 children. The study examined the children at 18 months, and then again at 8 years, and some (201) at 9 years also. It examined the children's diet, and compared their diet to their blood pressure.
What was surprising in the article is that you don't have to wait until adulthood to see the effects of sodium and potassium levels in the diet. Namely, the changes are evident already in childhood, at 8 and 9 years of age.
In brief, for all the kids, the higher the dairy, the lower the blood pressure. Accordingly, the kids with the highest intake of dairy had the highest intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium, and also had the lowest blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. And the kids with the lowest dairy intake had the highest blood pressure.
Most importantly, dairy is a high potassium food, except for cheese. Accordingly, cheese has too much sodium and not enough potassium. Click on the “Links to Food Potassium Tables” for a link to a table with the potassium and sodium values of dairy foods.
A Growing Problem
However, the problem of high blood pressure in children has been growing over the past few decades. And this increase in blood pressure has corresponded to the increase in sodium and the reduction in potassium intake seen over the same period. Much of the shift in potassium and sodium intake results from eating out more (almost all is high sodium and low potassium food), and eating more processed foods. The changes in our lifestyle make a big difference in what we eat. And consequently make a big difference in what happens to our bodies.
But by changing to a high potassium diet, many favorable effects will result. The expected results of eating more potassium and less sodium are that we will be less likely to have hypertension, cardiovascular disease and strokes, and our bones will be stronger. And this all starts in childhood when we are conditioned to prefer certain types of foods.
For a list of all the food tables showing the amount of potassium in different foods, as well as showing other posts, click on the “Links to Food Potassium Tables” at the top of the page.
1. The effect of dairy consumption on blood pressure in mid-childhood: CAPS cohort study. Rangan AM, Flood VL, Denyer G, Ayer JG, Webb KL, Marks GB, Celermajer DS, Gill TP. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jan 11. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.218. [Epub ahead of print] (abstract only)