Potassium level may reveal diet quality

Urinary potassium levels can provide a useful summary measure of the nutritional quality of patients' diets, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Toronto measured urinary potassium levels in 220 people aged 18 to 50.

They also collected data on overall diet quality, using a food frequency questionnaire, and assessed BP, heart rate, weight and height.

Potassium levels were correlated with intake of recommended food items, including fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish and poultry.

They were negatively related to levels of red meat, fast food and high-calorie drinks.

The researchers suggest that urinary protein levels may be clinically useful for detecting poor dietary habits and monitoring responses to dietary interventions.

Different thresholds for potassium levels indicating poor diet may be needed for men and women, they point out.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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