Salt diet dangers may be influenced by potassium

By MIKE STOBBE | July 11, 2011 | 4:29 PM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) — A new federal study suggests a new wrinkle in the debate about the dangers of eating too much salt.

The research found that the people who are most at risk are those who get too much salt but also get too little potassium. They were twice as likely to die from a heart attack as those who ate about the same amount of both nutrients.

Sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease and stroke. One of the researchers says potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of salt.

Many foods have potassium. Good sources are spinach, bananas, broccoli and prunes.

The study was led by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.