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Dr Kathy Trieu

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Dr Kathy Trieu

Strategies to optimise sodium and potassium intake to lower blood pressure and cardiovascular risk

Dr Kathy Trieu, University of New South Wales

2018 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Years funded: 2019-2023

High blood pressure causes early death from stroke and heart disease; the biggest killers in Australia. Most Australian adults and children consume too much sodium (in the form of salt) and not enough potassium, causing high blood pressure. It is widely recognised that reducing sodium or increasing potassium intake lowers blood pressure, however there is growing evidence suggesting that the combined effects of low sodium and high potassium on blood pressure are greater than either nutrient alone.

Since 2009, the Australian government has had limited success in reducing sodium intake through voluntary engagement with food manufacturers to lower the sodium content of processed foods. Given that Australians consume inadequate levels of potassium, instead of exclusively focusing on sodium reduction, new strategies to increase potassium intake alongside a moderate reduction in sodium, are likely to be more feasible and efficient in lowering blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.

This research will generate the evidence for effective and feasible strategies to jointly optimise sodium and potassium intake to shift the population’s blood pressure and vascular risk down. This includes recommendations about changes in; the sodium and potassium content of processed foods, the salt used by consumers during cooking or eating and consumers’ food choices, as well as the strategies (nutrition labelling, policies, potassium-enriched salt substitutes etc) needed to achieve these changes.

This project is co-funded with NHMRC - National Health and Medical Research Council.

Last updated12 July 2021