Studies have shown that older women who have a diet high in potassium have a lower risk for strokes.

Up your potassium to protect kidneys

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There are a number of minerals that the body requires daily for good health. Potassium is one mineral that you are probably familiar with, especially if you take a fluid pill for your high blood pressure. Studies have shown that older women who have a diet high in potassium have a lower risk for strokes. 

Potassium works with the mineral calcium to maintain a normal heart rhythm and good blood pressure.

Recent research conducted in Japan shows that a higher dietary intake of potassium may offer protection to the kidneys of a person with type 2 diabetes. More than 600 patients with type 2 diabetes and normal kidney function were followed for over 15 years. Their health was assessed, as well as the amount of potassium excreted in the urine.

From the study, those with the highest dietary amounts of potassium experienced a slower decline in kidney function and lower cardiovascular disease complications.

Where do we find potassium?

  • Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Fish
  • Dark green vegetables such as broccoli and greens
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Legumes: kidney, Great Northern, white, navy and black beans; chick peas; lentils
  • White and sweet potatoes
  • All fruits, especially oranges, melons, bananas, mango

People with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for many health problems down the road, including cardiovascular and kidney diseases. And this study indicates that this valuable mineral, potassium, may protect the vascular system and kidneys.

We need about 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily – which is a lot! So incorporate high potassium foods into your menus. For example:

  • Breakfast: Banana slices and milk on cold or hot breakfast cereal
  • Lunch: Peanut butter sandwich and tomato soup for lunch
  • Dinner: Grilled fish, fresh spinach salad and baked potato
  • Snacks: Seasonal fruit, yogurt, nut butter on crackers

Recipes to try:


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.