Researchers found that a generous intake of potassium provided protection from both heart disease and kidney disease. The current guideline for daily potassium from the Institutes of Medicine is 4,700 milligrams daily.

Give your diet a potassium boost

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Potassium is an underrated mineral that is occasionally thought of when folks are on a diuretic for high blood pressure. The diuretic causes excess sodium to be excreted, and along with that goes potassium, so foods high in potassium need to be added to the diet. But researchers from the University of Southern California, in reviewing over 70 studies, found that an excellent intake of potassium, in combination with less sodium, can protect our health.

The researchers found that a generous intake of potassium provided protection from both heart disease and kidney disease. The current guideline for daily potassium from the Institutes of Medicine is 4,700 milligrams daily. That’s a lot of potassium but fortunately there are some good food sources that will do the trick! All fruits and vegetables contain some potassium, but some more than others.

  • White potato, 1 medium: 925 mg
  • Sweet potato, 1 medium: 450 mg
  • Banana, 1 medium: 425 mg
  • Spinach, ½ cup cooked: 400 mg
  • Dried beans & peas, ½ cup cooked: 300-475 mg
  • Fish, 3 ounces: 300 mg
  • Tomato, 1 fresh: 290 mg
  • Raisins, ¼ cup : 270 mg
  • Plain yogurt, 6 ounces : 260 mg
  • Dried apricots, 5: 200 mg
  • Nuts, ½ cup: 200 mg

 

Having plant-based meals will increase your dietary potassium intake, and prepping these meals at home will keep the sodium content to a minimum. For example:

  • Cook dry oats in skim milk rather than water; add diced dried apricots or raisins.
  • Top peanut butter with banana slices on whole grain bread for an easy and inexpensive lunchtime sandwich.
  • Add black beans and spinach to traditional homemade vegetable soup for dinner.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.