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Make sure your diet includes whole foods high in potassium—a mineral so vital that it contributes to the health of our cardiovascular system, our muscles, and our bones.
The primary functions of potassium include the regulation of fluid balance and control of electrical activity of the heart and other muscles. High potassium levels also have been shown to directly correlate with a decrease in blood pressure—an important benefit, considering that high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease as well as strokes.
Potassium lowers blood pressure because it’s vasoactive, meaning that it helps regulate the size and health of your blood vessels as well as increasing blood flow. And one in three American adults has high blood pressure. It’s become a concerning trend: “High blood pressure is a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 410,000 deaths in America in 2014,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How Much Potassium?
The adequate intake (AI) of daily potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg), as listed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The best way to get potassium is through food—and the healthiest sources of potassium are whole fruits and vegetables.
To boost your intake of foods high in potassium, the obvious places to start are bananas, lentils, and broccoli. Fish, specifically halibut and flounder, is also a rich source of potassium. (Consult with your doctor on whether or not your body would best benefit from a protein-rich diet, as it’s not suitable for everyone.)
But there are countless other sources of potassium that may be less obvious to some. Below, we give you a quartet of foods high in potassium, each deserving of a prominent place in your eating plan.
4 Foods High in Potassium
One medium potato, baked with skin, contains more than 800 mg of potassium.
With the popularity of low-carb diets, potatoes are often overlooked, but they do have health benefits, in moderation. Baked potatoes, of course, are a better choice than deep-fried; they’re not only a great source of potassium, but they offer an ideal base that can be easily customized, depending on your tastes.
Popular baked potato topping combinations include:
- Sautéed mushroom and onion
- Diced tomato, avocado, cucumber, and chives
- Black beans, real cheddar cheese, salsa, and sour cream
A half-cup of plums or dried prunes contains 637 mg of potassium.
A fun way to incorporate plums into your diet is plum salsa. Create a mixture of ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey. Then add diced plums and stir to create a tasty plum salsa. For an even heftier serving of potassium and other health benefits, serve over baked, grilled, or roasted fish, such as cod.
#3. Lima Beans
A half-cup of cooked lima beans contains 485 mg of potassium. Traditionally, lima beans should be boiled to be cooked properly. To add texture and flavor, consider additional types of preparation—baking the beans, for example, or using them to create a lima-bean-and-lentil soup.
For baked lima beans, soak them in water overnight. Then cook them in water until they’re half-way tender. After draining the excess water, add the beans to a mixture of molasses, ketchup, brown sugar, and onions. Bake on low for approximately two to three hours so that the beans will absorb all the flavor while still maintaining all health benefits.
Note: If you have gout, be careful with lima beans; they’re listed in our post Foods to Avoid with Gout.
QUICK REFERENCE: FOODS HIGH IN POTASSIUM
You can access the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s list of potassium-rich foods by clicking here.
See also the USDA’s report on potassium intake and deficiency in the U.S. by clicking here.
#4. Acorn Squash
A half-cup of cooked acorn squash contains 448 mg of potassium. One way to prepare acorn squash is to slice and roast. Dress up the dish by coating the squash in coriander, pepper, and a sprinkle of oil, and then roasting it until cooked. Top your cooked squash with a mixture of toasted sesame and cumin seeds. Use your roasted squash as a side dish or as a topping to a salad, rice, or quinoa dish.
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