Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body and it is an essential nutrient that is used to maintain fluid and electorate balance in the body. It is required by several other organs in the body, such as brain, muscular tissues, kidneys and the heart. It plays an important role in keeping the body hydrated and it works with sodium to assist in the cellular function with the sodium-potassium pump. A deficiency of potassium in the body causes dehydration, severe headaches, heart palpitations, fatigue, irritability, muscle cramps, weight gain, increased blood pressure and swelling of tissues and glands.
Potassium can be got from certain vegetables and fruits and the best will come from natural sources. Consuming at least three servings of high potassium foods or fruits will ensure that you have the optimum levels of potassium in the body needs each day. Potassium content varies widely even in between foods that are similar.
The top good sources of potassium include:
- Avocado: 1 whole contains 1068mg
- White beans: 1 cup contains 1004mg
- Yogurt or kefir: 100grams contains 55mg
- Coconut water: 1 cup contains 600mg
- Sweet potato: 1 baked contains 542mg
- Beets: 1 cup contains 518mg.
- Banana: 1 cup contains 806mg.
- Spinach: 1 cup 839mg
- Mushrooms: 1 cup contains 528 mg
- Acorn squash: 1 cup contains 899mg
- Dried apricots: ½ cup contains 755mg.
- Broccoli: 1 cooked cup contains 457mg
- Dates: I/2 cup contains 584mg.
- Tomatoes: 1 cup contains 528mg
- Orange: 1 medium contains 300mg.
There are a lot of benefits that are associated with taking potassium and some of them are:
- It helps lower blood pressure, which is a major risk of stroke and heart disease. It helps keep the brain function at a normal level, allows more oxygen to reach the brain, stimulate neural activity and increase the cognitive function.
- It ensures proper growth of the muscle tissues and proper utilization of the energy that is released during metabolism.
- It curbs the elevated blood pressure by causing more flexible arteries and helping get rid of sodium from the body which may promote fluid retention.
- Potassium is great for strengthening bones and protects against bone loss by neutralizing various acids in the body that are responsible for retaining and preserving calcium, hence no accessibility to use of the bones strength and durability.
- It allows the nerves to respond to stimulation and contracts the muscles including the heart. It also helps the heart beat regularly and lowers the risk of one dying from ischemic heart disease.
- It helps in the movement of nutrients into the cells and waste products out of class and regulates electrolytes in the human body
Potassium levels that are too high or too low are very dangerous to your health and the average intake of potassium per day for women is 2, 400 grams and for men is 3,200 grams. To get a sufficient amount of potassium, it is best to take fruits or vegetables when it is raw, roasted or slightly steamed rather than boiling. Don’t take large amounts of potassium if you have kidney problems or taking blood pressure medication.