Potassium, Sodium and Chloride belong to the electrolyte family of minerals. These work closely to maintain cellular health and activity. More than 95% of Potassium in the body is stored within the cells, while sodium and chloride are stored outside the cells.
Potassium is an important mineral required for regulating the activity of muscles and nerves in the body. Muscle contraction and nerve transmission, the two most important functions in the body are largely dependent on Potassium. It is also involved in the storage of carbohydrates (to be used as fuel by the muscles) and in maintaining the electrolyte and pH balance in the body.
Potassium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, irritability, fatigue, chronic diarrhea, confusion and heart disturbances. To avoid such health problems, it is important to eat a diet rich in potassium. The good thing about this mineral is that it is available in abundance in most fruits and vegetables, so you can easily get your recommended daily dosage from a normal diet.
Let’s take a look at the Best Food Sources of Potassium:
- Sweet Potato – Sweet potatoes are a rich source of Potassium, Beta Carotene and Vitamin A. One average-sized sweet potato contains 694 mg of potassium, which is 15% of the recommended daily dosage. However you must cook the potato with the skin, as peeling and dicing allows the potassium to leach out.
- Bananas – Bananas are the most popular and commonly available source of Potassium. An average sized banana contains approx. 453 mg of potassium.
- Oranges – Known for their Vitamin C content, Oranges are also a rich source of Potassium.
- Beet Greens – Another root vegetable that is a rich source of Potassium are the Beet Greens. Half a cup of greens contains 655 mg of potassium. Toss them in Olive oil and have as a side dish or add to your salads. Beet Greens are also rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin K.
- White Beans – Half a cup of white beans contain 600 mg of potassium. Like all other legumes, white beans are also a good source of protein, iron and fiber. There are various ways you can cook these delicious legumes and add to your daily meal.
- Tomatoes – Tomato is truly a super food as it is a rich source of potassium, Vitamin E, and Lycopene. You can have them raw, diced, or in the pureed form. This tasty vegetable can add wonderful flavor to all your recipes.
- Clams – Clams are a storehouse of powerful nutrients and minerals such as Potassium, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Iron and Protein. These are usually found across the coastal sides of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The fat content in Clams in very low, making them an ideal food for health-conscious people.
- Raisins – This tiny dry fruit is packed with a lot of nutrients and is a rich source of Potassium as well. Half a cup of raisins contains up to 543 mg of Potassium. Add them to your daily cereal, to sweets/cakes or just eat them raw. Be careful about the calorie content though!
- Dates – This tasty, Middle Eastern fruit is an excellent source of Potassium. Just a handful of dates will give you up to 590 mg of potassium.
- Yogurt – Known for its high calcium content, yoghurt is also a great source of potassium. Have a bowl of unsweetened yogurt everyday for its high nutritional content and for improved digestion.
Benefits of Potassium-Rich Foods
As mentioned above, potassium is an essential mineral that controls and regulates the body’s cellular and muscular functions. Potassium is an electrolyte that is required for organ and tissue repair, carbohydrate metabolism, muscle building, and protein synthesis in the body.
Eating a diet rich in potassium can help ward off a wide range of illnesses and keep you healthy and fit. Some benefits of Potassium-rich diet are as follows:
- Assists in healthy functioning of the muscular and nervous system
- Regulates the Electrolyte and Acid-base balance in the body
- Enables transfer of nutrients at the cellular level
- Lowers the risk of Heart diseases
- Maintains healthy Blood Pressure Levels
- Prevents loss of calcium through the urine, thereby preserving bone health
- Reduces the risk of Osteoporosis
The recommended daily allowance for Potassium is 2 to 6 grams, and your daily diet should be able to meet this requirement. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (especially the ones mentioned above) can easily fulfill the potassium requirements of your body, and keep your body functioning in a healthy and efficient manner.