Essentia Health, Heart Healthy Recipe

Essentia Health Smarts | Pump up your potassium!

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By Bonnie Brost, licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health.

Potassium is an essential mineral for our bodies, but many of us are not getting enough in the foods we eat.

Potassium is important for our bodies to digest food efficiently and help avoid constipation. It helps build strong muscles and makes them properly relax and contract. Potassium keeps our hearts beating correctly and our blood pressure in a good range. It also helps lower our risk for kidney stones and bone loss.

The Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science recommends adults get at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day. We should consume two to three times more potassium than sodium for our bodies to function well. But many of us have this ratio upside down. The average American gets only 2,500 milligrams of potassium daily while consuming 3,450 milligrams or more of sodium.

If we are healthy, it is almost impossible to consume too much potassium because our kidneys control how the mineral is eliminated. If we eat a lot of potassium, more is eliminated. When kidneys are damaged, or when certain medications are taken, potassium balance can be affected.

Too little potassium, or hypokalemia, can cause weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms and higher blood pressure. Too much potassium, or hyperkalemia, may cause dangerous heart rhythms and needs to be addressed by your health care provider. It’s important to know that you can be deficient in potassium even if the level is normal in your blood. That’s because we need potassium throughout our body, not just in our blood.

Fortunately, potassium is found in a wide range of foods. Here are some good sources:

foods with potassium

  • Vegetables: broccoli, peas, dried beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins), sweet potatoes and winter squash
  • Fruits: citrus fruits, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwi, prunes and dried fruits.
  • Milk, and yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Meats: Red meats, chicken
  • Fish: salmon, cod, flounder and sardines
  • Soy products, including veggie burgers

 

If your potassium level is too high in your blood, choose lower potassium foods. It is impossible to eat a potassium-free diet. Just eliminating a few of the higher potassium foods will usually help.

 

Potassium supplements are not recommended, unless prescribed by your health care provider. A supplement could affect your heart rhythm. Getting more potassium from food is the better option, unless you are on a medication that warrants a potassium supplement.

It is hard to accurately estimate our potassium intake since nutrition labels on foods don’t include the mineral. A good resource is the USDA food database, which you can find on the internet.

Here are some high potassium foods with an estimate of the amount of the mineral found in each:

 

Vegetables

Broccoli, cooked                       1 cup                                        460 milligrams

Brussel sprouts, cooked             1 cup                                        500 milligrams

Mushrooms, cooked                  ½ cup                                       280 milligrams

Potato, baked with skin              1 medium                                  925 milligrams

Rutabaga, parsnips                   1 cup                                        560 milligrams

Spinach, cooked                       ½ cup                                       420 milligrams

Sweet potato, baked                 1 medium                                  450 milligrams

Tomato, raw                              1 medium                                  290 milligrams

Tomato sauce or puree              ½ cup                                       400-550 milligrams

Winter squash                           1 cup                                        500 milligrams

 

Fruits

Avocado                                   ¼                                              245 milligrams

Banana                                     1 medium                                  425 milligrams

Cantaloupe                               1 cup                                        430 milligrams

Kiwi                                          1 medium                                  240 milligrams

Orange                                     1 medium                                  240 milligrams

Prune juice                                ½ cup                                       370 milligrams

Raisins                                     ¼ cup                                       270 milligrams

Strawberries, raw                       1 cup                                        250 milligrams

 

Meats and fish

Beef, cooked                            3 ounces                                   270 milligrams

Chicken, cooked                       3 ounces                                   220 milligrams

Fish: cod, salmon, perch            3 ounces                                   300-480 milligrams

Pork, cooked                            3 ounces                                   350 milligrams

 

Other foods

Lentils, cooked                         ½ cup                                       365 milligrams

Beans and peas, cooked           ½ cup                                       300-595 milligrams

Nuts, seeds                              1 ounce                                     200-300 milligrams

Milk                                          1 cup                                        350-380 milligrams

Soy milk                                   1 cup                                        300 milligrams

Yogurt, plain or fruited               6 ounces                                   260-435 milligrams

 

Bonnie Brost is a licensed and registered dietitian at Essentia Health

About Becky Flansburg


Becky Flansburg is freelance writer, blogger and virtual assistant living in Northern Minnesota. A dedicated mom to two beautiful kids, her veteran blog Franticmommy.com is filled with laughter and love about the joys parenthood. Becky is also committed to helping women realize their work-from-home dreams, enjoy life beyond the cubicle and find clarity in the work/life/family balance. Connect with Becky via her website, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

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