Please Pass the Potassium

February 10, 2017

It's hard to overstate all the good things potassium does for you.iStock-171151606.jpg

This mineral helps your nerves work, your muscles contract and your heartbeat stay regular. It moves nutrients into cells and waste products out of them. And potassium helps keep your blood pressure in a healthy range by blunting the effects of sodium.

Are you coming up short?

Even though potassium is crucial to for good health, chances are you're not getting enough of it. The average adult is encouraged to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day. But that's almost double what most of us actually consume, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The good news: There are plenty of potassium-packed foods that can help you meet this daily amount. Among them: dark green, leafy vegetables; root vegetables; and bananas. One cup of cooked spinach, for example, has 839 milligrams of potassium, a baked potato with skin, 926 milligrams, and a medium banana, 422 milligrams.

Consuming these foods and beverages regularly can also up your intake:

  • Apricots and apricot juice.
  • Broccoli.
  • Cantaloupes.
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt.
  • Grapes.
  • Certain fish, such as salmon, mackerel and halibut.
  • Many types of beans, including black turtle, pinto, kidney, navy, great northern, lima and soybeans.
  • Oranges and orange juice.
  • Prunes, raisins and dates.
  • Tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato sauce.

Easy does it

For some people, however, it is possible to get too much of a good thing.

If you have kidney problems, for instance, your kidneys may not be able to remove potassium from your blood. And it can build up and be harmful. As a result, your doctor may advise a special diet to lower your potassium.

Additional sources: American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Agriculture

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