Potassium is one of the most valuable minerals in the human body. What foods are high in potassium and when do we need it the most?
Potassium regulates the functioning of vitally important body systems. Both potassium deficiency and excess are bad for the organism. Abnormal potassium levels create a risk of getting cardiovascular diseases, erosive processes of the mucous membrane of stomach, duodenum, and cervix. Potassium is of high importance for women’s reproductive health – its misbalance can cause miscarriages and infertility.
No wonder that the question of foods high in potassium is very important and popular.
What is the use of potassium-rich foods?
- Help muscles and nerves function properly.
- Maintain electrolytic and acid-base balances in the organism.
- Lower the risk of high blood pressure, prevent hypertension and stroke.
When do we need to increase potassium supply?
Potassium can be found in so many products around us. That is why its deficiency is a rare thing. But there are some circumstances and symptoms when you need to increase its consumption even more, via foods and vitamins. These circumstances include:
- Chronic diarrhea, vomiting, sweating.
- Regular intense physical activity.
- Chronic stress, including neuropsychic one.
- Taking some diuretics and hormonal pills that wash potassium away from the body.
You need additional potassium supply if your ratio lacks sufficient amounts of veggies and fruits, if you do sports, drink little water, abuse diuretics (coffee is in the list), or have lost liquids due to an illness.
Remember the experts’ recommendation: we must consume at least five times more potassium than sodium (the scientific name for salt).
What foods are high in potassium?
Potassium can be found easily in a lot of foods. It is especially easy to “extract” from veggies and fruits. So it takes hard work to “undersupply” your body with it. The most potassium-rich foods are Swiss chard, Lima beans, dried apricots, cantaloupe, lentil, pea, haricot, soybeans, baked potato, spinach, tuna, and halibut (see a full list down below).
What is potassium? What are its functions?
Potassium, sodium, and chlorine make up a group of so-called electrolytes – minerals that conduct electricity when dissolved in the water. The members of this “trio” work closely to one another. Around 95% of potassium is stored in cells, while sodium and chlorine dwell outside the cells (in liquids around the cells).
The main potassium functions
Muscle contraction and neurotransmission
The frequency and the extent of muscle contraction, nerves excitability depend largely on potassium amount in the body. Many muscle and neural cells have special channels to transfer potassium into the cell and back. Sometimes potassium moves freely, but sometimes its way blocked or it moves slowly. In this case, our muscles and nerves are in danger.
Other potassium functions
Potassium helps to store carbo (glycogen) so that our muscles could use it as a fuel. Without the proper amount of potassium, our bodies are incapable of creating this storage!
Potassium is very important when it comes to keeping pH balance.
Another function is to prevent calcium loss, especially if there is too much salt in your diet.
Take potassium level blood test if you experience:
- Confusion, irritation, fatigue, apathy.
- Adrenal exhaustion, lowered adaptation of your organism.
- Muscle weakness, paresis, monomyoplegia.
- Dry skin, hair fragility.
- Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure.
- Intestine inflammation, atony.
- Other kidneys, intestine, lungs, and skin diseases.
- Kidney dysfunction, frequent urination.
- Miscarriages, cervical erosion, infertility.
- Increased insulin level.
- Bones fragility (risks of osteoporosis).
Important: since many symptoms of potassium deficiency and excess are similar, it is better to consult with your doctor and take blood tests.
Hyperkalemia (high potassium level in blood)
High potassium level in the blood is very dangerous. The limit is 6 g of potassium.
Hyperkalemia happens when the level of potassium is 0.06% in the blood. It is accompanied by severe poisoning, monomyoplegia. The higher concentration is fraught with death.
One of the reasons for hyperkalemia is a long and unbalanced ratio with foods high in potassium, for example, potato diet, drinking “bitter” mineral water, taking potassium pills when unnecessary.
If you suffer from kidney diseases, you must limit potassium intake, including via food. All because kidneys wash potassium away from your body, but if you have kidney problems this mineral will store.
Foods high in potassium
It is necessary to maintain proper potassium-sodium balance. Foods high in potassium cause increased removal of sodium and vice versa. If one eats mainly vegetables that are rich in potassium, don’t forget about salt!
Cooking ways also alter the amount of potassium in foods. Blanched spinach, for example, loses up to 60% of potassium.
Sometimes this loss can be useful. For example, parsley decoction is high in potassium because the latter one is moved from leaves into the water.
|Content of potassium mg /100 g of product|
|The amount of potassium (mg) Foods|
|Increased (500 and more)|
|Corn, dried apricots, Swiss chard, beet, Lima beans, seaweed, cantaloupe, prunes, raisins, peas, baked potato, spinach, crimini mushrooms, cod, yoghurt, lentil, dried peas, haricot, soy beans, avocado|
|Beef, pork, hake, mackerel, cristae, halibut, tuna, squid file, oat grains, green peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, Romaine lettuce salad, garden radish, fennel, asparagus, turnip, cherry, bananas, red and black currant, grape, apricot, peach, celery, carrot, kiwi, strawberry, cauliflower, treacle, goat milk.|
|Chicken, fat pork, pikeperch, millet, buckwheat grains, bread from second-rate flour, cabbage, eggplant, squash, pumpkin, pear, plum, orange, green haricot|
|Low (less than 150)|
|Cow milk, curd, sour cream, cheese, semolina, rice, noodles, pasta, bread from first-rate flour, cucumbers, watermelon, cowberry, cranberry, basil, fig, raspberry, leek.|
Bake halibut in the oven, eat more baked potato and baked corn – there is lots of potassium!
Potassium consumption recommendations (USA)
Starting from 18 years – 2 g a day. Commonly, intake of 4-4.5 g is recommended. For elderly people, sportsmen, and pregnant women this amount is higher.
- 0-6 months: 400 mg
- 6-12 months: 700 mg
- 1-3 years old: 3,5 g
- 4-8 years old: 3,8 g
- 9-13 years old: 4,5 g
- 14-18 years old: 4,5 g
- 19-30 years old: 4,7 g
- 31-50 years old: 4,7 g
- 51 + years old: 4,7 g
- Pregnant women: 4,7 g
- Breastfeeding women: 5,1 g