What is potassium?

Potassium is a vital nutrient that helps regulate blood and fluid levels in the body. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in the transmission of electrical impulses in the heart. It is an essential nutrient for many body biochemical processes. Potassium is a mineral in your cells and helps your nerves and muscles function as they should. The ideal balance of potassium also keeps your heart beating at a steady speed. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that a diet high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce blood pressure and lessen the possibility of heart disease and stroke.

A potassium level that is too large or too low can be dangerous. If your levels are low or high, you might need to change how you eat. Bananas are the go-to known potassium powerhouse, but many other foods contain just as much or more of the nutrient. Many fruits and vegetables are great potassium sources of potassium. Meat, nuts, and milk are good sources.

A deficiency in potassium (hypokalemia) causes muscle cramps, muscle paralysis,  irritability, fatigue, weakness, constipation, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Unless you're on dialysis or have a particular condition, an overdose of potassium from organic sources is practically impossible. Indications of high potassium levels (hyperkalemia) include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, or heart palpitations/ irregular heart rate.

High potassium foods include leafy green vegetables, fish, white beans, avocados, potatoes, acorn squash, milk, mushrooms, bananas, and cooked tomatoes. The current daily value (%DV) for potassium is 4700 mg (mg), which recently increased from 3500mg from the FDA. Foods with potassium are classified as follows:

Low-potassium foods less than 100 mg

Medium-potassium foods 101-200 mg

High-potassium foods 201-300 mg

Very high-potassium foods over 300 mg

You can manage the potassium level in your diet by being aware of foods that are high or low in potassium. The serving size also matters in the food selection, or one can get too much or too little potassium.

See: Benefits of potassium intake on metabolic syndrome: The fourth Korean National Health and diet therapy Examination Survey (KNHANES IV).

Foods rich in potassium

A diet full of vegetables, fruits, and legumes, is good enough for most people to get enough potassium in their diet. It's beneficial to balance it by eating low sodium foods, such as processed foods and fast food. This dietary approach can't just help keep potassium at a healthy level. Still, it might help people obtain an assortment of different vitamins and nutrients in whole foods and contribute to better health.  Bananas contain an ample 422 mg of potassium per medium fruit. Let's check out other excellent potassium sources.

Leafy greens: Leafy greens are the most nutritious foods to consider. Leafy green vegetables comprise many vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. Most also provide a fantastic quantity of potassium. A cup of cooked Swiss chard comprises 962 milligrams of potassium, while a cup of cooked spinach contains around 838 mg.

- Lentils: Lentils contain fiber, potassium, and protein. Lentils are a small, round legume. They contain tons of fiber and are also full of protein. Lentils make a fantastic addition to soups or stews. People searching for a faster option can use canned instead of dried lentils. However, it's imperative to wash canned lentils well before use to remove any sodium. One cup of cooked lentils contains 731 milligrams of potassium.

- Dried apricots: Dried apricots are a great potassium source of iron and antioxidants.

Several dried fruits are high in potassium. Apricots are a bright orange fruit that individuals may eat either dried or fresh. When buying dried apricots, someone should search for the ones that contain no added sugar. They could eat dried apricots as a snack or add them to salads or main meals. Half a cup of dried apricots comprises 1,101 milligrams of potassium. These fruits also offer other essential nutrients, such as iron and antioxidants.

- Potatoes: Potatoes are a great source of potassium. Baked potatoes with the skin still on would be the best option, as many potatoes' potassium is from the epidermis. French fries often lack nutrients and contain added fat from the frying process, which makes them a less healthful alternative. Fries also typically have high levels of sodium, which may negate the benefits of potassium. One medium baked potato with skin comprises 941 milligrams of potassium. By eating a baked potato and skipping salt-free seasoning, someone can avoid additional sodium.

- Prunes: Prunes are essentially dried plums. Due to the high fiber content and other chemical properties, many men and women use prunes or prune juice to help alleviate constipation. Juice firms usually make prune juice by adding water back into the prunes, cooking them, and then filtering out the solids. There are 699 milligrams of potassium in half a cup of dried prunes.

- Tomato juice: Fresh tomatoes provide several health benefits. However, for more potassium, it's ideal to use concentrated tomato products, such as tomato puree or tomato juice. Individuals frequently use tomato puree in cooking, as an instance, adding it to pasta sauces. Fresh tomatoes also contain potassium, with one moderate raw tomato comprising 292 mg. A cup of tomato juice includes 527 mg of potassium.

- Vegetable and fruit juices

Some varieties of juice contain high levels of potassium. But many health organizations recommend that people avoid juices with additional and sugar. Whole fruit has more fiber and frequently more nutrients also than juice. However, 100% juice may be a part of a nutritious diet in limited quantities, according to the AHA (American Heart Association). Carrot, passion fruit, and pomegranate juices are high in potassium.

- Raisins

Raisins are a popular snack food and another sort of dried fruit that's high in potassium. Raisins with no additional sugar, coatings, or other components are ideal healthy choices. Half a cup of raisins can pack 618 mg of potassium.

- Kidney Beans: Beans come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Most contain a high quantity of fiber, some protein, and a good dose of potassium. Kidney beans are reddish, kidney-shaped legumes used in chili or soups. A cup of canned kidney beans is loaded with 607 milligrams of potassium.

- Dairy products: Dairy products are abundant sources of calcium. But some dairy products are also a fantastic way to include more potassium in the diet. Studies suggest that in America, milk is the leading source of potassium among adults. Adding creamers and milk increases the potassium content substantially. Other dairy products also contain potassium. As an example, 1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt contains around 579 mg.

- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes have a sweeter taste than white potatoes, and are full of potassium. . The orange color on their skin means that they provide more beta carotene than other potatoes, but they also contain potassium. A baked sweet potato with the skin on comprises 542 milligrams of potassium.

- Seafood

The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least two times weekly.  Wild Atlantic salmon and clams are also good sources of potassium lead the way with 534 milligrams of potassium per 3-oz serving.

- Avocado: Avocado is a creamy fruit that comprises an assortment of nutrients. Avocados contain fiber, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and vitamins C, E, and K. Avocados also offer potassium, providing 364 mg at a half-cup serving.




See: Green Leafy Vegetables Health Benefits

Potassium supplements

Some may wonder about using nutritional supplements to improve their potassium intake. A few studies have investigated the effects of potassium supplements, and some indicate that the body can absorb potassium too from nutritional supplements as it can from food. However, the ODS state that manufacturers restrict the amount of potassium to 99 mg in many dietary supplements -only about 3 percent of a person's DV due to safety concerns about medications that contain potassium.

Consuming too much potassium can be problematic for people with kidney problems since this may result in hyperkalemia or high levels of potassium in the blood. Potassium from food, however, does not cause harm in healthy folks who have normal kidney function. When the kidneys are working well, any extra potassium from food melts in water and leaves the body in the urine.

See: Heart healthy diet plan to prevent heart disease

Relationship of sodium and potassium

Sodium and potassium ratio

Potassium and sodium are tightly intertwined but have opposite effects in the body. Both are essential nutrients that play crucial roles in maintaining bodily equilibrium, and both have been linked to the risk of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease. High salt intake increases blood pressure, resulting in heart disease, while high potassium intake helps relax blood vessels and excrete sodium while reducing blood pressure. Our bodies need a lot more potassium than sodium every day, but the regular U.S. diet is just the reverse. Americans consume an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium each day. Nearly 75 percent of that intake comes from processed foods, while only getting about 2,900 mg of potassium every day.

An Archives of Internal Medicine study revealed that individuals who ate high-sodium, low-potassium diets had a greater chance of heart attack related death. What may be even more significant for health is the connection of sodium to potassium in the diet. People with the maximum ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of heart attack fatality than individuals with the lowest rate. They had a 50% greater risk of death from any cause.

People can create a key dietary change to reduce their risk. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits that are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium, but consume less processed meat, bread, cheese, and other processed foods which are high in sodium and low in potassium.

See: Foods That Clear Arteries

Potassium health benefits

Health Benefits of Potassium

Potassium can help lower the risk of the following conditions:

Type 2 Diabetes- Potassium is necessary for insulin secretion. Many studies have found a correlation between low cholesterol levels and high levels of fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Kidney Stones - Adequate potassium levels are essential for calcium reabsorption in the kidneys. Diets low in potassium contribute to high calcium levels in the kidney that increase the chance of kidney stones.

- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and Stroke risk - A diet low in potassium and high in sodium may lead to elevated blood pressure over time. Hypertension causes damage to the arteries and veins, which may result in strokes and cardiovascular disease. Eating foods high in potassium while restricting foods high in sodium can help decrease blood pressure over time. 

- Osteoporosis - Many studies have found a relationship between increased bone density and increased dietary potassium intake. These studies were accurate even for postmenopausal girls and older men.

See: Stop and Reverse Diabetes Type 2 With Diet Therapy

Foods low in potassium

What foods are low in potassium? Foods low in potassium include most processed fats and oils, grains such as white rice, cornmeal, and white pasta, some cheeses like leeks, soft goat cheese, blueberries, and napa cabbage. Boiling vegetables in water and then rewashing or discarding the water they're cooked in can help lower their potassium content.

See: High blood pressure diet menu

Hidden potassium sources

Some foods and beverages may have concealed potassium. Certain herbal or dietary supplements might also have it. Diet, diet bars, oo protein drinks often have this nutrient. It's also in sports beverages. These are supposed to replace the potassium you lose during exercise. Food labels don't need to include the amount of potassium, but a few do. Even if potassium isn't recorded, it may still be in that food. If you limit your potassium, don't use a salt substitute or "lite" salt without talking to your physician first. These often are incredibly high in potassium.

See: Herbs to lower high blood pressure

References

1. National Academy of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2019 Mar.

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4. Appendix 10. Food sources of potassium. (2015). https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-10/

5. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/

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See: Are canned beans healthy

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