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Potassium: Why you need it and how to eat it

Get lots of this mighty mineral to lower blood pressure and keep your heart beating strong. Here’s how.
Anonymous
Jan 9, 2013

Have you had your potassium today? You should. The landmark DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggests that eating lots of high-potassium foods, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, can lower blood pressure—a prime cause of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Another study shows that potassium may blunt the heart-damaging effects of consuming too much sodium.

“Sixty million people in the in the U.S. have high blood pressure, so many of us have still not gotten the message about potassium,” says registered dietitian Lona Sandon, assistant professor in clinical nutrition at The University of Texas-Southwestern in Dallas, and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Experts recommend shooting for 4,700 mg of potassium each day. If that sounds like a lot, these seven tips will help you hit the mark in a jiffy.

A banana a day. We all know the advice about apples, but bananas have some bragging rights, too. One large banana contains 500 mg of potassium. Add it to a fruit salad of potassium-rich cantaloupe and orange and you’re up to 1,250 mg of the mineral.

Pass the potatoes. Baked sweet and white potatoes, with the skin on, deliver 1,000 mg of potassium each. Don’t boil potatoes, or any high-potassium vegetable; the mineral will wind up in the water, not you.

Don’t forget dairy. One cup of plain low-fat yogurt has more than 500 mg of potassium. Substitute yogurt for sour cream in dips to beef up potassium levels.

Go fish. Sure, everyone knows salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, but six ounces of the fish also has 750 mg of potassium.

And go green. A cup of avocado contains 1,000 mg of potassium. Substitute an avocado-mango salsa for your spicy tomato and jalapeno blend.

Drink it up. A cup of nonfat milk contains nearly 400 mg of potassium. Combine with potassium-rich mango (250 mg), dried apricots (500 mg), and a cup of orange juice (at 500 mg, it contains more potassium than an orange) to make a smoothie with a potassium punch.

Eat your beans. Half a cup of beans, like pinto or black beans, contains more than 500 mg of potassium. Pump up potassium levels even more by adding tomato sauce or tomato puree (750 mg of potassium per cup) and chili powder to create a meal with some kick.

 

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