An essential electrolyte needed to balance with sodium, potassium fuels many of our bodies necessary mechanisms. Adequate levels of this nutrient give us many benefits including preventing strokes in the brain, keeping blood sugar at normal levels, relieving cramps, and building strong muscles. It also helps to keep blood pressure at optimal levels.
One of the most vital functions of potassium is that it regulates hydration and water balance in the body, another reason you should balance it with sodium intake. High potassium foods will improve bodily health in many ways.
Low potassium has a significant link with cardiovascular problems and with elevated blood pressure. Additionally, too little can lead to metabolic acidosis, which usually occurs when the diet contains too many acid-producing foods like meats and processed grains. When this happens, people begin to lose density in their bones and lose muscle mass as well.
One of the main reasons people low in potassium don’t get enough especially in the Western world is because our diets often don’t contain enough. A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables and quality proteins and an over-reliance on processed foods leaves us depleted of this nutrient and more likely to suffer the results of its absence. help us to balance our systems and get enough to maintain health.
The USDA suggests getting nearly 5000mg of potassium for the average person each day, making it essential for us to obtain as much as we can on a regular basis. However, some medical conditions may preclude consuming this much of the nutrient. Check with your doctor if you have kidney disease, which can cause your levels to become too high and in extreme cases lead to cardiac arrest. Likewise, watch out if you’re taking medications like ACE inhibitors, which can also elevate potassium levels in the body.
Avocado, one of the most potassium-rich foods available, contains over 1000 mg of it, enough to equal a third of our daily requirement all by itself. Studies have shown that people who consume avocados regularly not only tend to have a healthier diet overall but that they also cut down their risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes.
Another one of the best potassium foods to consume is acorn squash. Like avocado, it has nearly a third of the potassium we need each day, and it also contains a large amount of antioxidants. This vegetable is noted for having an excellent capacity to fight cancer.
Sweet potatoes and spinach follow closely behind in nutrient content, each containing about 25% of our daily needs for potassium, and salmon ranks as one of the best meats to consume for adequate potassium intake at just over 20%.
For hydration, coconut water makes an ideal choice. It’s loaded with 600mg of potassium, almost 20% of our daily requirement, and remains low in sugar if you buy the kind without additives. It hydrates us, contains few calories, and it can even fight cancer and help to prevent kidney stones.
Lastly, bananas have long been the go-to food to maintain adequate potassium levels, coming in at nearly 500mg per fruit. Because they’re also a high-carbohydrate food like most fruits, they make an excellent choice for a quick potassium boost after a workout. Foods like this help to raise levels after they get depleted from a workout or from electrolytes lost in sweat.