A new study shows that aging women whose diets are rich in potassium are less likely to suffer strokes and die than women who have less of the mineral in their diets.

For more than a decade, research has shown that potassium can lower blood pressure. But Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, who is the senior author of the new potassium study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said her team’s findings offer clear evidence that potassium also cuts the risk of stroke in older women.

The study found that women who consumed the highest amounts of potassium reduced their risk of stroke in general by 12 percent. The same group of women were 16 percent less likely to suffer ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that supplies the brain.

Among women who did not have hypertension, those with the most potassium-rich diets lowered their risk of ischemic stroke by 27 percent and all stroke types by 21 percent compared to women who had the least amount of potassium in their diets.

“Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods,” Wassertheil-Smoller said in a written statement.

Women of all ages are at higher risk of stroke than men, according to previously issued earlier this year guidelines by the from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

The Einstein medical school study tracked 90,137 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 over 11 years to determin how much potassium the women consumed and whether they suffered strokes or died. The women were stroke free at the start and consumed an average of 2,611 milligrams of potassium per day – well below the 4,700 milligrams per day recommended in health guidelines issued in 2010 by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

In fact, only 2.8 percent of the women in the study had government-recommended levels of potassium in their diets, Wassertheil-Smoller said. The study — which appeared Thursday in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke — focused only on postmenopausal women and did not take into account their sodium consumption.

Potassium can be found in all food groups, especially fruits; milk, yogurt and other milk products; and vegetables, including potatoes, cantaloupes, beans, bananas, and plaintains. An average-size banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium and 105 calories, according to the guidelines.

The federal dietary guidelines note that potassium can counteract the effects of sodium on high blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. The guidelines also noted that few Americans – in all age groups and across gender lines – consume adequate amounts of potassium.