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Which Foods are Rich in Potassium and Why Include Them in Your Diet?

Updated on April 18, 2011

Due to modern lifestyle and eating habits, the amount of potassium present in our bodies does not balance the concentration of sodium which is the main cause of many heart related disorders as well as other chronic health problems. It is imperative to take not just diets containing traces, but high in potassium in order to reap its many health benefits. Sources of potassium such as legumes, fruits and vegetables are highly recommended unlike meats and dairy products.

Eating a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water is recommended for everyone, not unless when advised by a doctor to follow a strict diet due to personal health reasons. These are all essential nutrients that the human body needs in order to reap growth and health benefits. However, minerals are not as easy to balance as most other nutrients. Foods that are rich in potassium are required to maintain the right balance of minerals in the human body which is often intoxicated by intakes of modern processed foods. Many foods that we eat contain more salts of other minerals, especially sodium, more than potassium. Consequently, our bodies end up with mineral imbalances which in turn lead to many health risks. Athletes and people who engage more in vigorous exercises or those under diuretics loose a lot of potassium through excretion. Potassium deficiency in the body is a condition known as hypokalemia and often results due to loss of potassium.

There are varieties of foods rich in potassium highly recommended for inclusion in our daily diets. Most foods still contain potassium but in traces that cannot match the amount of sodium we take in through table salt alone. The best sources must be foods high in potassium, but also those that do not introduce more of non essential nutrients such as cholesterol. In this respect, the options to go for include legumes, green leafy vegetables and fruits. In each of these categories, some foods contain more potassium than others. Some of the richest potassium sources from these categories of foods are soybeans, white beans, lima beans, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, bananas, citrus fruits, avocados and papayas, to mention but just a few.

Other foods also rich in potassium are meats and dairy products. Although many people will naturally crave for beef, veal, mutton, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, game or even meat from reptiles and crustaceans, the high saturated fats they contain are not good for human health as it encourages cholesterol levels and also acid formation. Meats should not be taken very often, but when they have to then white meat should be preferred to red meat. Dairy products also need to be controlled because they encourage acid formation but cannot be totally avoided as sources of calcium and other essential nutrients needed by the human body. Although potassium in the body helps in maintaining acid-base balance or the body PH, too much acidity as a result of eating plenty of acid-forming foods can defeat the whole idea of eating more foods rich in potassium.

The reason why you should eat more foods rich in potassium is because of the many health benefits associated with it. The potassium mineral is an important electrolyte in the human body that helps maintain the balance of other minerals or electrolytes especially the abundant sodium. It also maintains the body’s optimal PH level and water balance in the cells. Potassium ions are more concentrated inside the body cells especially in the muscles and help to balance sodium ions concentrated more outside the body cells. Adequate potassium in the body prevents sodium ions from dehydrating the human body cells hence avoiding a common muscles cramping problem. Potassium also prevents many heart related diseases and disorders by strengthening its muscles. Unbalanced sodium levels are highly linked to high blood pressure and irregular cardiac rhythm hence the need for taking more potassium foods.

Potassium in the body is also linked to increased insulin which is very important in the regulation of carbohydrates metabolism. This ensures enough blood sugar levels while more energy is stored in form of glycogen. The effect to your body is that you will feel more energetic with your muscles functions optimized. You will also be more alert with your brain getting enough supply of blood sugar and oxygen due to improved circulation. With enough insulin production, prevention of diabetes and even stroke are also possible. Enough potassium prevents loss of calcium in the body, both through leaching from the bones and excretion. This is in turn important to prevent osteoporosis. People with kidney problems should avoid foods rich in potassium to avoid high amounts than normal, a dangerous condition known as hyperkalemia.

It is clearly evident that foods rich in potassium have numerous health benefits, yet they are also highly available. Choose varieties of these foods while still taking other essential nutrients. If you loose more potassium through excretion or because you use diuretics, you might be advised to take potassium supplements. Otherwise for every other person in good health, foods rich in potassium can meet daily dietary requirements.

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