[Beth Greenfield | Yahoo! Health]

You can’t really eat too many bananas — especially if you’re a woman over the age of 50, according to the findings of a new study regarding potassium intake and stroke prevention. Published on Thursday in the journal Stroke, researchers discovered that women in that age group who ate high-potassium foods were 12 percent less likely to suffer from a stroke in general and 16 percent less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke (one caused by a blood clot) than women who didn’t. Finally, the high-potassium women were 10 percent less likely to die — from any cause — than those who ate low amounts of the healthy mineral.

“Potassium has long been associated with lower blood pressure,” said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, lead researcher and principal investigator at the Women’s Health Initiative of Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. But, she told Yahoo Health, “We think it goes above and beyond that, to a cellular level. Potassium is used in cellular function, and could be positively affecting the cells that line blood vessels.”

One unexpected finding in the study, Wassertheil-Smoller noted, was that the relationship between potassium intake and stroke prevention was the strongest in women without hypertension. “That was surprising and really interesting,” she said. “So we think it’s good to up your potassium intake before hypertension has a chance to develop.”

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