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Ask the Expert Archive

Press Release

July 18, 2011


Kristen Stevens, COO
Produce for Better Health Foundation
7465 Lancaster Pike
Suite J, 2nd Floor
Hockessin, DE 19707
Fax: 302-235-5555


Study Confirms Relationship Between High Sodium and Low Potassium Intake on Heart Disease

Hockessin, Del. - A new study shows that a diet high in sodium and low in potassium doubles the risk of dying from a heart attack and is associated with a 50% increased risk of death from any cause.  The study recorded the diet of 12,000 U.S. adult men and women 20 years and older over a 14-year period. A dietary imbalance of the two minerals posed the greatest risk than simply eating too much salt because potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of salt. The results strengthen past studies and research showing a relationship between sodium intake and mortality.

The research was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and Harvard University, and published in the American Medical Association’s Journal Archives of Internal Medicine released on July 11, 2011.  

The researchers noted, “hypertension is the leading global risk factor for death, affecting almost 1 billion people,” and commented that “encouraging consumption of unprocessed, potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is the safest and preferred pathway to increasing potassium intake.” 

“We’ve known that hypertension has been linked with diets too high in sodium and too low in potassium, but to have this level of confidence about the role of the sodium/potassium ratio on increased risk of both cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality is significant,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) the nonprofit entity in partnership with CDC behind the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® national public health initiative. “Eating a plant-based diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables is a healthful way to manage low levels of sodium and high levels of potassium, thereby helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and promote overall health.”

Fruits and vegetables are available year-round in fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice forms, are affordable, and easy to prepare.  A wide variety of information, tools, and resources on fruits and vegetables, including a nutrition database, recipes, and videos can be found on the consumer-friendly website,
For more information on the Sodium and Potassium Intake: Mortality Effects and Policy Implications study, read Volume 171 (No. 13) July 11, 2011 journal online at Archives of Internal Medicine, a bimonthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by AMA.


Note to editors: for a print or web quality image of the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters logo, contact Kristen Stevens at

About Produce for Better Health Foundation
Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) fruit and vegetable education foundation.  Since 1991, PBH has worked to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables to improve public health.  PBH achieves success through industry and government collaboration, first with the 5 A Day program and now with the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters public health initiative.  Fruits & Veggies-More Matters is the nation's largest public-private, fruit and vegetable nutrition education initiative with Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Coordinators in each state, territory and the military. To learn more, visit and Follow Fruits & Veggies-More Matters on Facebook or Twitter.
PBH is also a member and co-chair with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) of the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA), consisting of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry working to collaboratively and synergistically achieve increased nationwide access and demand for all forms of fruits and vegetables for improved public health.  To learn more, visit

The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.Read Her Full Bio

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