Bananas and avocados could protect against heart disease, study finds

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Bananas and avocados may bolster up your arteries and protect against heart disease, research suggests.

Both may prevent hardening and narrowing of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, because they are rich in potassium, scientists believe.

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A study in mice found for the first time that reducing dietary potassium promoted arterial stiffness, which in humans can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Researcher Professor Paul Sanders, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, US, said: "The findings have important translational potential since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low potassium intake."

The scientists tested different levels of potassium on mice that were vulnerable to heart disease when fed a high-fat diet.

Those fed a low-potassium diet suffered a significant increase in vascular calcification, or artery hardening.

In contrast, mice fed a high-potassium diet had much healthier arteries.

Cross sections of arteries exposed to different levels of potassium revealed a direct link between low levels of the mineral and calcification.

The findings appear in the journal JCI Insight.