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The Nutritional power of bananas

Potassium shows its promise in fighting osteoporosis

Calcium isn't the only mineral that helps fight osteoporosis. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that potassium bicarbonate, found in many fruits and vegetables, may greatly enhance the body's ability to retain bone mass and stave off osteoporosis. You should "stock up" on potassium bicarbonate because it's robbed from the bones when you eat meat, says Dr. Anthony Sebastian, leader of the University of California San Francisco study.

The findings, however, are preliminary. Potassium bicarbonate supplements are neither suggested nor readily available. It's also not yet clear which foods are the best sources of the substance. But Dr. Sebastian's recommendations are in line with those of many other nutrition experts: eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat.

Researchers are finding other potential potassium benefits as well. Potassium has long been known for the role it plays in muscle, nerve, heart, and kidney functions, but several recent studies suggest that it may also help reduce blood pressure by relaxing blood-vessel linings so that blood can flow more easily. No cause-and-effect relationship has been clearly established, but researchers are impressed enough with their findings to urge that you include plenty of bananas and other potassium-rich foods in your diet.

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