Diet plays a key role in overall health, especially when it comes to risks for heart

disease, stroke and cancer. But there is no simple, objective and inexpensive way for physicians to assess a patient's diet, according to researchers. Now, a Canadian study finds that a simple test to check potassium levels in urine may help doctors assess and improve patients’ eating habits.

The Study

Researchers focused on urinary potassium as a potentially useful marker of a healthy diet. Evidence suggests that a diet high in potassium reduces the risk of developing a number of health problems.

The researchers collected urine samples from 220 people, ages 18 to 50, who also provided information about their eating habits over the previous year. The participants' blood pressure, heart rate, weight and height were also checked.

The study found a link between increased levels of potassium in the urine, a healthier diet, and lower weight, blood pressure and heart rate.


"These findings suggest, for the first time, that the amount of potassium in the urine is a valid, objective indicator of diet quality," said researcher Dr. Andrew Mente, of the Prosserman Center for Health Research in Toronto.

This urinary marker is a simple, objective, universally available measure of diet quality that may aid physicians in providing effective dietary counseling. Physicians can now establish targets for therapy, monitor the effectiveness of dietary interventions over time, and provide effective dietary counseling to patients at risk because of poor food choices," Mente said.

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