Will A Banana A Day Keep A Stroke Away? Low Potassium Intake May Increase Stroke Risk

We’ve all heard the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But could it be a banana a day could actually be the new apple? According to a study published in the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, lower levels of potassium could increase the risk for stroke. (1)

Banana And Stroke: Study On Potassium

The study followed a group of people over 65 who had not experienced a stroke over a four to eight-year period. Those with the least amount of potassium in their diet were one and a half times more likely to suffer a stroke than those with higher amounts. Low amounts of potassium were considered as anything less than 2.4 grams daily, while high was over four grams. However, further studies are required to determine if potassium increases might actually prevent strokes. (1)

Potassium And Diuretics

In other studies, diets low in potassium have also shown an increased risk for death resulting from stroke. Those taking diuretics to reduce water in the body such as people with high blood pressure, kidney disease, or congestive heart failure also reduce the amount of potassium in their bodies. (1)

“Diuretics clearly help prevent stroke by controlling high blood pressure, but we wanted to see whether their effect on potassium levels would affect the risk of stroke,” says study author and neurologist Deborah M. Green, MD, of the Neuroscience Institute at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. (1)

More Than Twice The Risk

Those on diuretics with the lowest level of potassium in their blood were more than twice as likely to have a stroke compared to the patients with the highest potassium levels. According to Green the study results do not indicate diuretics increase the risk of stroke. “The question is whether diuretics would be even more effective with adequate potassium intake,” she explains. (1)

Diuretics Combined With Other Risk Factors

This question is echoed by Steven R. Levine, MD, neurologist of The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. As a stroke expert who co-authored an editorial accompanying the study, he is concerned for those on diuretics with further stroke risks such as smoking, diabetes or atrial fibrillation. “Even a slightly increased risk added to other risks could have a large effect,” he says. “But overall, despite this potential adverse effect, evidence shows that low-dose diuretics are highly effective anti-high blood pressure therapies for preventing both stroke and heart disease.” (1)

Atrial Fibrillation And Stroke

The study also looked at the small group of those on diuretics with atrial fibrillation. This irregular heart rhythm increases stroke risk. The combination of low blood potassium and atrial fibrillation increased the risk for stroke 10 fold compared to those with users with high potassium levels. (1) 

Sources Of Potassium

Bananas are a good source of potassium so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add this healthy fruit to your daily diet. Other potassium-rich foods include avocados, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, and milk. You can find ways to eat more of these healthy foods using our recipes here


  1. https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/70 

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