Are you getting enough potassium in your diet? Many of us try to eat healthy by paying attention to our intake of proteins, fiber, carbohydrates and fats—and counting calories, of course. Find out more about mouth guard for sleep apnea from Positive Health Wellness – https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/ We might add a daily vitamin pill just to be on the safe side. All of this is fine, but it won’t guarantee that you are eating the right amount of potassium-rich foods.
Why We Need Potassium
All living cells in plants and animals require the mineral potassium to function properly. Potassium is one of the major electrolytes in the human body responsible for regulating the heartbeat, blood pressure, kidneys, muscle movement, and the balance of fluids in the body. This mineral is also necessary for converting the simple sugar glucose to glycogen, the energy reserve the body uses to fuel muscle movement. An insufficient amount of potassium can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, kidney dysfunction, low blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.
Anyone who has experienced a charley horse—the sudden cramping or spasm in a muscle in your calf or leg—probably was experiencing a potassium imbalance, as well. This problem often occurs after you’ve exercised a lot without drinking enough water. Being dehydrated impedes the ability of electrolytes—like potassium—to function properly. That’s why sports drinks, which contain electrolytes and minerals like potassium, are recommended for this problem, along with massage.
Foods with Lots of Potassium
Sports drinks may be recommended for an emergency fix for a leg spasm, but the best way to get enough potassium is to eat a varied diet that regularly includes potassium-rich foods. This isn’t hard, since so many food groups—legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, meat and dairy—provide potassium. Some of the best choices include:
Dried fruits (apricot, figs, plum and raisins)
Cooked beans (edamame, white, lima, and navy)
Plan Your Potassium-Rich Menu
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get 4.7 grams (or 4,700 milligrams) of potassium per day. Cooking Light has a handy list of potassium–rich foods with their mineral content to help you plan an optimum potassium-rich menu.
With so many choices, you can be inventive. For instance, this recipe, Acorn Squash Stuffed with White Beans & Chard, includes acorn squash and white beans, two high-potassium ingredients, as well as tomato paste. You could easily substitute beet greens for the chard to really boost your potassium intake in this single dish.
Chile-rubbed Salmon with Papaya and Scallions adds the sweet, delicate flavor of potassium-rich papaya to grilled salmon, which has numerous health benefits in addition to its potassium content.
You don’t have to crunch the numbers all the time to calculate whether you are getting enough of this crucial micronutrient. These tips will ensure that potassium-rich foods play a regular role in your diet:
Keep a supply of nut-based trail mix on hand for snacks.
Add a handful of raisins or chopped dried apricots to a green salad.
Experiment with salsas using tomatoes, mango, papaya and avocado; use them to brighten up grilled salmon, chicken, steak, or serve with corn chips or crackers.
Blend a whole banana, yogurt and orange juice for a potassium-rich pick-me-up.
Get to know your beans. White, navy, edamame, and Lima beans are easy to cook and versatile in soups, vegetable or meat stews, side dishes and salads.
If you are not getting a sufficient daily amount of potassium, take the time to add more high-potassium foods in your meals. You may find that you have more energy—and those annoying charley horses may become a thing of the past.