Potassium is an essential mineral that plays intrinsic roles in maintaining human health, yet many people are deficient in this nutrient, despite its abundant availability in many different foods. Potassium acts as a critical electrolyte in the body, but it is also found within every single cell, while also helping to regulate the levels and intake of other critical nutrients.
The recommended amount of potassium intake is approximately 4.7 grams every day. However, majority of men consume only 3 grams and women consume even less – 2.5 grams, on an average. Due to the essential nature of this mineral, a constant deficiency can significantly lower your overall health over time.
It is important to maintain steady levels of potassium because a deficiency as well as an excess can lead to hypokalemia and hyperkalemia, respectively, each of which comes with a number of unpleasant side effects, including anything from stomach upset and muscle cramps to an irregular heartbeat and even death.
Benefits of Potassium
Potassium is a an essential mineral which has a very important role and offers many benefits for good health. Potassium plays a key role in regulating water balance throughout the body, including the pH level of your blood. It not only controls fluid balance but also impacts functions in your gastrointestinal system, namely nutrient absorption and regulation of levels of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Potassium has the ability to regulate tension in blood vessels and arteries, which means that it can lower strain on the cardiovascular system. It is also required for smooth muscles to contract and relax, so when a potassium deficiency is experienced, it can cause constipation, irregular heartbeats and poor muscle control, among other dangerous symptoms. Apart from these benefits it also ensures proper functioning of the nervous system.
List of Potassium-rich Foods
With nearly 25% of your daily recommendation of potassium in a single large sweet potato, this starchy root vegetable is an excellent option for boosting heart health. Furthermore, it is a dense source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, which can stimulate the immune system and repair damage to blood vessels and arteries.
1/2 of a salmon filet contains more than 20% of your potassium intake for the day, in addition to the plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and other essential minerals. Regularly eating salmon has been associated with better nervous system function, a reduction in blood pressure, and less inflammation throughout the body, which can be affected by poor fluid balance.
This is the classic potassium-containing fruit, although 1 large banana only delivers about 15% of your daily recommended intake of this mineral. Even so, bananas have long been associated with improved electrolyte balance, making them a favorite food of athletes who are preparing for or recovering from an intense bout of physical activity.
If you have ever put lentils into a stew, you likely know they deliver a decent amount of fiber but they also contain more than 350 milligrams of potassium in every half cup. That equates to roughly 10% of your daily intake for this critically important mineral, in addition to a decent amount of dietary fiber, copper and manganese, which can further help with heart health and bone mineral density.
With roughly 250 milligrams of this key mineral in every quarter cup, raisins are an excellent choice for a snack if you want to boost your daily intake of this mineral. Despite only being 7% of your recommended amount, raisins are also packed with other minerals and dietary fiber.
In 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, you can take in about 12% of your daily recommended potassium, not to mention a significant level of sulfuric compounds, antioxidants and other organic compounds that are critical for health. Mushrooms have long been linked with lower blood pressure and reduced levels of oxidative stress.
6 ounces of tuna represents more than 10% of the potassium you need every day, and this heart-healthy fish is also excellent for maintaining or balancing cholesterol levels, which can further aid heart health. Tuna is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can also act as antioxidants in certain parts of the body.
Most people forget that milk has such a significant level of potassium – roughly 10% in a single 8-ounce glass. This is in addition to the calcium and phosphorus available in this popular beverage, the levels of which can be regulated by proper potassium levels in the body.
One of the densest sources of this mineral, avocados offer approximately 30% of your daily requirement in a single fruit. Many people simply spoon out these fruits from around the pit and eat them on their own but these antioxidant and fiber-packed fruits can also be added to sandwiches, burgers and salads for a tasty burst of nutrition.
A single cup of this seasonal vegetable delivers more than 25% of the daily requirement for potassium, making it one of the best food sources for this critical mineral. Acorn squash also has tons of phytonutrients and antioxidants, which can help support the immune system and aid the functions of potassium.
A 1/2 cup of these common beans contain nearly 15% of your daily recommendation of this mineral, in addition to a significant concentration of dietary fiber and other minerals. This can help you lower cholesterol levels, and in conjunction with potassium’s hypotensive effects, this tasty legume can seriously boost your heart health.
Another food that many people overlook in search of potassium, yogurt offers roughly 17% of your daily requirements in every half-cup. Yogurt also has a good amount of probiotics, which is helpful for digestive health and maintaining bacterial balance in the body.
Widely known as having some of the healthiest fruit juice in the world, pomegranate seeds are densely packed with potassium – nearly 20% of the daily requirements in one fruit. The seeds also deliver vitamin C and various other antioxidants, making it one of the best overall fruits if you want to maintain a healthy diet.