For their study, the team fed mice high-fat diets supplemented with either low, normal, or high levels of potassium.
University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have shown, for the first time, that reduced dietary potassium promotes elevated aortic stiffness in a mouse model, as compared with normal-potassium-fed mice.
As such, the vital mineral is thought to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in humans.
"The findings have important translational potential", said co-author Professor Paul Sanders, "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 low potassium levels resulted in high intracellular calcium content and higher expression of genetic markers characteristic of bone cells.
The result of the study also provides new targets which will be beneficial for potential therapies to treat the atherosclerotic vascular calcification and stiffness in arteries.
Increasing dietary, however, was found to reduce vascular calcification in the rodents, suggesting that a diet rich in potassium could help to prevent heart disease.
As people get older, the heart arteries stiffen, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.
While human studies are now needed to demonstrate the efficacy of potassium against vascular calcification in humans, the researchers believe that their current findings show promise. "All of these disease share common vascular complications, such as vascular calcification".
Arterial calcification is according to research, one of the predictors of cardiovascular issues.
Researchers suggest that dietary potassium could help to protect against heart disease.
On the other hand, sweet potatoes also contain good amounts of potassium.
Official NHS advice is to consume 3,500mg of potassium each day, a quarter of which could be met by eating two bananas. You can also eat artichokes as they have 345 mg potassium or snack on seedless raisins, which gives you 270 mg potassium.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends people to increase the intake of potassium-rich food to reduce blood pressure and decrease their chances of getting heart diseases.