Potassium rich foods

Potassium is an essential component to any diet; it is needed for various bodily functions, and you cannot live without it. It is important that you eat plenty of foods that are rich in potassium so you don’t have to worry about any problems that you can incur from a potassium-deficient diet. On that same token, getting too much potassium can be harmful as well.

Potassium: The Importance
Potassium is a mineral salt that acts as an electrolyte in the body. It is critical for maintaining pH balance in the fluid inside the body; it works alongside sodium, chloride, magnesium, and calcium, all of which conduct electricity in the body (that is where the electrolyte term comes from). It plays a primary role in regulating our blood pressure, bone mass, nervous system, heart functions, kidney functions, and adrenal functions. When this electrolyte level is out of whack in our body, either too much of it is present or too little, some serious health problems can occur. It isn’t something that you want to mess with or have to deal with.

Hypokalemia: this is the condition of being potassium deficient. It can be a result of different things, such as a very poor diet; using fad diets that don’t provide proper nutrient intakes; in those who sweat a lot during physical activity; and in those who have kidney problems and/or diabetes. Symptoms include fatigue, overall weakness, trouble concentrating on daily tasks, and difficulty with muscular coordination; this condition can lead to blood pressure problems, hypertension, stroke, and heart irregularities.

Hyperkalemia: this is the condition of having too much potassium in the body. Although symptoms are rare, they can include an irregular heartbeat, nausea, and a slow pulse. The condition can lead to cardiac arrest, arrhythmias, and changes in nerve and muscle control. It can be a deadly situation.

With both of these conditions, it is extremely important that medical attention is sought as soon as the symptoms appear. Potassium is essential to our bodies, but it is also essential that the levels of potassium are in the right range. Too much or too little potassium can be life-threatening and very harmful.

Potassium Rich Foods
If you follow a well-balanced diet, chances are that you don’t need to worry too much about becoming deficient in potassium. There are many foods that have an adequate amount of potassium. They include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish, particularly tuna and halibut
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bananas
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Avocado
  • Strawberries
  • Apricots
  • Pears
  • Mangoes
  • Dates
  • Raisins
  • Prunes and prune juice
  • Beets
  • Figs
  • Kiwi
  • Honey
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Bell pepper
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Squash
  • Crimini mushrooms
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Turmeric
  • Parsley
  • Oat bran
  • Garlic

As you can see, there are foods from many of the food groups. It shouldn’t be hard to get potassium in your diet. There are dietary supplements of potassium available, but be careful about taking them and always talk to your doctor beforehand, because it can be a very bad thing to have too much potassium in the body at one time. Athletes or individuals who exercise rigorously on a daily basis could benefit from a supplement, but again, not without a doctor’s consent. These individuals may also simply benefit from replenishing lost electrolytes after a hard workout; this can include drinking a sports drink, such as Gatorade, or by eating a sports bar. Drink plenty of fluid, particularly water, during a strenuous exercise routine, to replenish lost fluids. Our bodies are very wonderful machines and they are quite capable of maintaining proper levels of potassium and other important minerals.

Last updated on Apr 11th, 2011 and filed under Healthy Eating. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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