e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Increasing potassium intake to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular diseases in adults

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.5 million people died from CVDs in 2012, representing 31% of all deaths worldwide. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk for CVDs, especially heart attack and stroke.

Evidence shows that increasing potassium intake significantly reduces blood pressure in adults. Potassium is found in a variety of unrefined foods, including beans and peas, nuts, vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and parsley and fruits such as bananas, papayas and dates. Food processing reduces the amount of potassium in many food products, and a diet high in processed foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables is often lacking in potassium.

WHO recommendations

WHO recommends an increase in potassium intake from food to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease in adults.

WHO suggests a potassium intake of at least 90 mmol/day (3510 mg/day) for adults.


These recommendations complement the WHO guideline on sodium consumption and should not be interpreted to replace or supersede that guideline. Public health interventions should aim to reduce sodium intake and simultaneously increase potassium intake through foods. Additional information can be found in the guidance summary, and in the guideline under 'WHO documents' below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

24 August 2016 17:00 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee


There is not yet any implementation information related to this intervention in GINA

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global NCD targets

Target 6: A 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure or contain the prevalence of raised blood pressure, according to national circumstances