Get to Know Potassium

Sure, you’ve heard of potassium, but how well do you really know this mineral? Potassium plays a very important role in maintaining good health, but it turns out that it’s a nutrient that many Americans regularly fall short on. In fact, according to a study published in 2012, less than 2 percent of adults get the amount of potassium recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. Those recommendations call for adults to consume 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily.

“The best food sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, and most Americans simply do not eat enough of them to get the potassium they need,” says Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Potassium is an important electrolyte, and it works in partnership with sodium (also an electrolyte) to help regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. “Most people get too much sodium and not enough potassium, which can throw off this balance,” says Rumsey.

Potassium helps keep blood pressure levels under control, and since it plays a role in muscle contractions, it’s important for normal muscle and digestive function. So how can you increase your potassium intake? Focus on getting several servings of fruit and vegetables every day.

If you need inspiration, here are some of the top sources of this important nutrient:

Swiss chard                960 mg per cup

Lima beans                955 mg per cup

Sweet potato              950 mg per cup

Spinach                       838 mg per cup

Lentils                         730 mg per cup

Avocado                     727 mg per cup

Tuna                           597 mg per 4 ounces

Salmon                       492 mg per 4 ounces

Broccoli                      457 mg per cup

Cantaloupe                 427 mg per cup

Asparagus                  403 mg per cup


Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.


from Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog


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