Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York studied the amount of potassium that 90,137 postmenopausal women aged between 50 and 79 consumed and whether they had strokes throughout the course of the study.
The World Health Organisation recommends a daily intake of 3,510mg for women, however the study showed that only 16.6 per cent of women reached or exceeded this amount (a medium sized banana contains roughly 430mg of potassium).
Published in the American Heart Association journal Report, the results were based solely on potassium consumed via food, not supplements.
Those women who ate the most potassium-rich food were 12 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke and 16 per cent less likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke (the type which sees blood supply to the brain cut off).
Of the women who didn’t suffer from high blood pressure, those who consumed the most potassium had a 27 per cent lower risk of ischaemic stroke and 21 per cent less risk of a stroke of any kind.
Based on the findings, researchers suggested that a high potassium diet is more beneficial before the onset of hypertension in warding off stroke.
“Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods,” said the study’s senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller. “You won’t find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans.”
Wassertheil-Smoller also warned that too much potassium can be dangerous to the heart, so women should check with their doctor just how much is safe for them.