The Healthy Benefits of Potassium and Fiber in Vegetables and Fruits
Recent research studies have supported past studies on the benefits vegetables and fruits have on a person’s life. However, it is sad to note many people do not consume enough of the fruits and vegetables available. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables helps in reducing diseases which are chronic. The nutrients found in fruits aid in the maintenance of the body and health.
Including plenty of vegetables in the diet and frequent consumption of fruits aids in reducing the risks of getting heart diseases such as stroke and heart attack, shield against specific types of cancers, and reduce the risk of getting obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Eating plenty of fruits and including vegetables in diet helps in lowering blood pressure and risk of developing kidney stones.
The interesting thing about fruits is that a high percentage of them do not contain fat, calories and sodium. All of the fruits do not contain cholesterol.
It is important to note fruit juices are not wholly beneficial as compared to whole fruits. This is because they contain little or no fiber at all.
The following are the major nutrients found in fruits and vegetables emphasizing the need of including them in meals and in the case of fruits, consuming several of them on a weekly basis.
Potassium, a mineral is very important in a person’s health as it helps in the proper functioning of vital organs such as kidney and heart.
When a person’s diet is low in potassium there is high risk of getting heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, digestive disorders and arthritis.
In order to ensure the blood pressure is normal or under control the kidney has to be healthy, that is functioning properly. Vegetables and fruits ensure kidneys are strong. Also, potassium reduces the risk of getting kidney stones. “This is thought to be because the naturally occurring potassium salts in plant foods help to neutralize acidity in the blood stream. This prevents leeching of calcium from the bones to buffer the acid, which in turn reduces urine calcium, preventing its deposition in the form of stone.”
Nursing mothers and athletes need a lot of potassium but children need less of it depending on their age.
It should be pointed out too much of anything is poisonous. Moderation is the key. As shown by Whofoods, “…if potassium levels get too high or too low, the heart and nervous system completely shut down. Luckily, most of us are able to obtain enough potassium from foods to meet our most basic needs. But since just meeting a minimal intake indeed is not a recipe for health…”
If a person’s blood has high levels of potassium is called hyperkalemia while having low levels of potassium in the blood is called hypokalemia. Among other factors, hypokalemia may be caused diabetes, kidney disease, certain medications causing side effects, digestive problems such as too much vomiting and chronic diarrhea, varying levels of hormones and the natural lacking of enough potassium in the blood.
Generally, most of potassium in the body is inside the cells while a small percentage is found in the blood. The body tries to keep potassium in the blood at a certain level but the level may vary when the body is affected by diseases such as diabetes and kidney.
Vegetables and fruits which are rich are in potassium are: beans, mushrooms, spinach, watermelon, bananas, raisins, potatoes, prunes, citrus fruits, soya beans, spinach, salmon, cod, turkey and peas.
Vegetables are the richest source of potassium especially the green leafy.
Fiber is very important though many people do not realize it. As stated by DoctorOz, "If you are like most Americans, then you probably consume about 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day. Unfortunately, this is not just enough. According to the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), we should actually be eating anywhere from 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day."
Therefore, a diet or meal which contains high amount of fiber has lots of benefits.
Generally, fiber which is found in fruits and vegetables is not digested by the body. It passes directly through the digestive system. In most cases it passes directly through the digestive tract the way it was swallowed. It is not broken down. As it is not broken down it forms a bulk which helps in moving stool and harmful elements through the digestive tract and colon. "Without enough fiber in your diet, you will have irregularity, constipation, and sluggishness. Insufficient fiber can also increase your risk of colon cancer, as well as other serious health issues," states DoctorOz. Therefore, it helps in preventing the development of colon cancer.
Fiber is also known to reduce the risk of having heart disease, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and glucose levels, and aiding in weight loss.
Fiber are are divided into two groups:soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is digested by the body. People who have constipation are encouraged to include fruits and vegetables that are sources of soluble fiber. Also, soluble fiber lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Good sources of soluble fiber are: bananas, root vegetables (such as carrots), apples, golden linseeds, barley and rye (fruits).
On the other hand insoluble fiber cannot be digested. It is not broken down thereby it helps in aiding other foods to move with ease through the digestive tract.
However, people who are experiencing diarrhea should limit the amount of insoluble fiber they consume in the diet.
Vegetables and fruits rich in insoluble fiber are: cerealsm seeds and nuts, bran and whole meal bread. Golden linseeds are not soluble fiber instead they are soluble fiber.
It should be noted "If you need to increase your fiber intake, it's important that you do so gradually. a sudden increase may make you produce more wind (flaturence), leave you feeling bloated and cause stomach cramps.
It's also important to make sure you drink plenty of fluid. You should drink approximately 1.2 litres (6-8 glasses) of fluid a day, or more while exercising or when it's hot." (NHS)
Summary of Healthy Benefits of Potassium and Fiber
Potassium and Fiber are important nutrients to include in the diet because:
Prevent development of heart disease
Prevent development of certain cancers
Prevent weight gain and development of diabetes
Aids in lowering blood pressure and digestive disorders
Makes it easy for foods to pass through the digestive system
Helps in better absorption of iron
Healthy Diets: Fruits and Vegetables
The following links might prove helpful in learning more about the health benefits of potassium and fiber found in fruits and vegetables.