Potassium is an essential nutrient for our bodies. It is a type of mineral called electrolyte that does many functions in our body. Electrolytes play an important role in maintaining water balance in the body. Potassium is required by our bodies to build proteins, break down and use carbohydrates, build muscle, control the balance of acid and base, control heart’s electrical activity and ensure our body’s normal growth. It is obvious therefore that we should Potassium rich foods in our diets.
Excess potassium is lost in urine and some when we sweat after some physical activity. Kidneys play the role of neutralizer or balancer and control the levels of potassium in our bodies.
Potassium being an electrolyte helps in balancing an excess of sodium rich diet. The recommended daily intake of potassium nutrient is 4700 milligrams. Finding potassium rich foods is easy as they can be found in animal and plant based sources. Potassium is available in more quantity in unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
Problem of Potassium deficiency
Potassium is a very important mineral required by human bodies. Potassium deficiency is called hypokalemia. Low potassium intake can cause health concerns, some of which are listed below:
Weakness in muscles, spasms:
A dreaded condition when you do not include potassium rich foods in your diet. When the levels of potassium in our bodies take a dip, it creates muscle weakness and results in fatigue, that makes us tired easily at different times. It can also cause spasms and cramps which are very likely when muscles are deprived of all essential minerals. A spasm happens due to involuntary contraction of a muscle and causes intense pain, for a minute or two and sometimes for hours and days.
If your diet does not contain foods with potassium, and when potassium deficiency becomes high, it can even cause paralysis as the muscles go fully limp. Paralysis means that the muscle stops functioning in a part of your body, generally hand or legs.
Potassium deficiency can cause excessive loss of water during urination. This can result in extreme thirst. Also when water goes out from the body in large quantities, the blood pressure drops causing dizziness.
Deficiency of potassium can cause abnormalities in heart rhythm creating a sensation that the heart is beating too fast or too heavy. It may cause anxiety and heavy breathing. This could also be one of the future causes of cardiac arrest.
Cramping and bloating:
When potassium levels are low, the muscles of the stomach too may not function properly causing abdominal bloating, pain, cramping and sometimes even constipation.
When nerves do not fire normally, it may lead to numbness or burning sensation. We all have faced numbness in our lives sometimes, like when we sit for a long duration with our legs crossed, we stop feeling our legs for some time. Low Potassium diet can make our nerved to not function properly.
There are many food sources that are rich in potassium. If you search online you may find some sites that list vegetables high in potassium, drinks high in potassium and fruits high in potassium. Let us take a look at few Potassium rich foods that include fruits, vegetable, and drinks.
Potassium Rich Foods- Must Have Diet for Everybody
Spinach, a leafy green vegetable has many fans worldwide thanks to a popular cartoon character. Spinach is well known for its high iron content and also contain quite high amounts of potassium in it. Cooked spinach that measures 100 grams provides about 550 milligrams of potassium. It is said that cooked spinach contains more potassium than raw as cooking releases minerals increasing the amount of potassium, calcium, and manganese in it.
An unlikely candidate for potassium rich foods, the beetroot is a root vegetable and is scientifically named beta vulgaris. This pink coloured vegetable can be used in salads or as a curry and is also a great source of fibre, Vitamin B9, manganese, iron and vitamin C. Beets provide 500 milligrams of potassium when taken a cup full, sliced and cooked. Beetroot juice too is a good health drink and is considered most delicious when eaten raw. Benefits of beet root for healthy heart and lower blood pressure.
Black beans are considered a staple diet in many regions across the world. They are a good source of fibre, vitamin B6, and potassium. A cup of black beans when consumed gives 700 milligrams of potassium. Black beans have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally and are known to support a healthy heart.
They are considered one of the best sources of potassium in the entire bean family. A cup filled with White beans provides you with 1100 milligrams of potassium. This will take care of one fourth of the daily requirement of potassium for you. White beans are also rich in fibre and protein. Other beans like lima beans and kidney beans also offer potassium but not as much as white beans. All the beans can be consumed by making it part of a salad or with dishes like curry.
Edamame beans (known as immature soybeans):
Soybeans are a very good source of protein and they also contain other essential vitamins and minerals like copper. They can also be used in a variety of dishes from curries and added to salads. Edamame provides you with 600 milligrams of potassium in a filled cup and 1.6 grams of manganese too.
Another unlikely name in sources of potassium, yogurt is a nutritious dairy product that is also loaded with protein. A cup of yogurt gives you 600 milligrams of potassium. Some types of yogurt provide with more potassium than others. Plain yogurts are considered the best. Yogurt also provides you with calcium. Plain yogurts can be eaten with some sugar in it without anything else.
Potatoes are a favourite amongst all age groups and apart from carrying potassium, potatoes also carry some other nutrients like vitamin B6 and manganese. It is recommended to consume only cooked potatoes. Fried and salted potatoes may not carry as many nutrients as a cooked one does and is not considered as healthy. We get about 400 milligrams of potassium in 100 grams of potatoes. This count makes them one of the top potassium rich foods among the list.
A tomato that is ripe and full of juices helps you stay charged and fit. Not many know about it, but tomato sauce is one of the good sources of potassium. A cup of tomato sauce contains about 600-700 milligrams of potassium. A large tomato has about 400 milligrams of potassium in it. It is very easy to include tomato in your daily diet as they are on the inexpensive side. Your salad can contain slices of tomatoes or vegetable curry can be supplemented with tomatoes. You can even find burgers and some Indian snacks added with tomato puree or sauce kind of a thing.
Another contender in the list of Potassium rich foods, white mushrooms contain many minerals like copper, phosphorous, vitamins like B-2 and B-5 and many antioxidants. A Hundred grams of white mushrooms provide you with 300 milligrams of potassium.
If you consume non-vegetarian food like fish then this one should be a good news to you. Fishes like Salmon, a popular sea food, are a very good source and provides more potassium than any other fish. A chum Salmon provides 400 milligrams of potassium and is also a healthy food. It also comes with omega 3 fatty acids in it which are considered an essential nutrient for the human body.
Fruits high in potassium – A look at fruits that contain high potassium
We all are well aware of the fact that banana comes loaded with carbs and minerals like potassium, manganese, and vitamin C. Tennis players are recommended to have bananas in between break so that they regain their energy quickly because of the drop in their energies after a long duration. So one banana provides many benefits and comes with 350 milligrams of potassium. The banana does not cost on the higher side and can be eaten with other fruits in a fruit salad.
Prunes or a dried plum, are high in potassium. They also come with free radical busting antioxidants. Hundred gram of prunes provides you with 700 milligrams of potassium. Prune juice also is a good alternative to simply prunes.
Watermelon, as we know is one of the fruits to have lots of water in it. One big slice of the watermelon contains about 300 milligrams of potassium. You can even go for ready-made watermelon drinks that are free from added sugars as they too provide potassium. A 360 milliliter packaged drink of watermelon gives 825 milligrams of potassium. Another good advantage of watermelon is it is known to fight certain types of cancers. Potassium rich foods like watermelon are not heavy on your pockets too!
Fruits like avocado are known for being high in healthy fats that are essential for our body and are very nutritious. Of late, it has become the primary choice of health conscious individuals just like tofu is. An avocado contains about 20 types of vitamins and minerals including potassium. We get about 450 milligrams of potassium in 100 grams of avocado. Avocado also helps in preventing cancer and is good for the heart. It is also loaded with antioxidants that can help in taking care of eyes. Potassium rich foods like avocado that are delicious too, should be made a part of your diet if it not already is!
Dry apricots are generally clubbed with dry fruits and are tasty too. Dried apricots are high in potassium but also contains loads of sugar and therefore should be avoided by diabetics. Dried apricots filled full in a cup provide you with 1500 milligrams of potassium. It can be eaten as a snack or can be added to salads or even yogurt.
Fruits like kiwi are not easy to find but they taste great and are the toppers of potassium rich foods owing to their intensity of the potassium content. You get 300 milligrams in kiwi fruits that weigh 100 grams. Kiwi is also an antioxidant that fights skin degradation and a few slices can be applied to the skin for desired results.
Figs are not as popular as other fruits but have a unique taste that is sweet. Dried figs contain more potassium than the fresh ones, which are perishable because of its delicateness. Dried figs can also be stored for a longer time. We get 100 milligrams of potassium in 100 grams of fig. Figs are also high in natural sugars and other minerals like manganese, calcium, copper, and iron. They are also known to be a natural laxative.
Prune juice, grape juice and apple juice – these fruit juices are really good drinks high in potassium. A cup of prune juice gives away 700 milligrams of potassium. Whole milk filled in a cup that weighs 225 milliliters will fetch 300 milligrams of potassium. If your daily diet consists of milk, then it is advised to go with non-fat or skimmed milk rather than whole milk as the skimmed ones provide ten percent more potassium than the others.
Facts related to potassium:
-Alcohol and coffee may cause a loss of potassium, so avoiding the addiction of these drinks is advised.
-When we are sick with diarrhea, we lose potassium.
-The level of Red blood cells is a better indicator of the level of potassium in our body.
Like we have seen earlier, potassium is needed by the body for various functions and the required intake is not huge but tiny, in milligrams. Some sources are quite rich while some provide an average content of potassium. By knowing all the Potassium rich foods we can inculcate the habit of using them in our daily diet, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks, in the form of fruits, vegetables or drinks.