November 2011

Keep Your Body Powerful with Potassium

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), potassium is a very important mineral in the human body. It is involved in both electrical and cellular functions, and is necessary for healthy heart activity, proper carbohydrate metabolism, building muscle and much more. Here are some potassium-rich foods that you can easily add to your diet:
  • Vegetables. Healthy amounts of potassium can be found in broccoli, peas, winter squashes, potatoes (especially the skins), sweet potatoes and lima beans. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that eating potassium-rich vegetables may lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and decrease bone loss.
  • Fruits.Not only is fruit delicious, it gives your body important doses of potassium. Try citrus fruits, bananas, prunes, kiwi and cantaloupe. Interestingly, dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots, and they make great snacks at school, work or on the go.
  • Milk and yogurt. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists an eight-ounce container of plain, non-fat yogurt as having 579 mg of potassium and only 127 calories. One cup of non-fat milk has 83 calories and 382 mg of potassium. Both are what the NLM and NIH describe as “excellent sources” of potassium.
  • Nuts and seeds. According to the Mayo Clinic, nuts are good sources of potassium and they contain valuable magnesium, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Almonds and sunflower seeds both offer good amounts of potassium.
It’s important to note that the human body can have too much (hyperkalemia) or too little (hypokalemia) potassium. These imbalances can be caused by a variety of diseases, medications, conditions and more, so talk to your doctor before increasing your potassium levels or drastically changing your diet in any way. For more information about potassium and other nutrients, visit the USDA at www.choosemyplate.gov.