Please Pass the Potassium
Wondering why potassium is good for you and how to get enough in your diet? Find out which foods are good sources to ensure you’re getting enough of this essential mineral in your diet.
It's hard to overstate all the good things potassium does for you. This mineral helps your nerves work, your muscles contract, and your heartbeat stay regular. It moves nutrients into cells and waste products out of them. And potassium helps keep your blood pressure in a healthy range by blunting the effects of sodium.
Are you coming up short?
Even though potassium is crucial for good health, chances are you're not getting enough of it. The average adult is encouraged to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day. But that's almost double what most of us actually consume, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The good news: There are plenty of potassium-packed foods that can help you meet this daily amount. Dark green, leafy vegetables and root vegetables pack a potassium punch—so do bananas! One cup of cooked spinach, for example, has 839 milligrams of potassium, a baked potato with skin, 926 milligrams, and a medium banana, 422 milligrams.
Consuming these foods and beverages regularly can also up your intake:
• Apricots and apricot juice
• Fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt
• Certain fish such as salmon, mackerel, and halibut
• Many types of beans, including black turtle, pinto, kidney, navy, great northern, lima, and soybeans
• Oranges and orange juice
• Prunes, raisins and dates
• Tomatoes, tomato juice, and tomato sauce
Related: Eat Healthier Using Color
Easy does it
A properly balanced diet is key. For some people, however, it is possible to get too potassium through dietary intake. If you have kidney problems, for instance, your kidneys may not be able to remove potassium from your blood. And it can build up and be harmful. As a result, your doctor may advise a special diet to lower your potassium.
While you’re here, check out our other healthy living articles.
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Additional sources: American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Agriculture