It might be stating the obvious here, but looking after your heart is important for enjoying life to its full.
That’s one of the big reasons why you want to make sure you’re getting enough potassium into your system.
Potassium is a miracle nutrient. It not only keeps your heart healthy and hale, but it delivers a huge range of benefits to just about every other part of the body as well:
- It balances the sodium in the body: Sodium (i.e. salt) is a critical nutrient itself, but too much of it raises blood pressure and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Potassium helps keep the body in balance by reducing the impact of too much sodium.
- It improves muscle function: Potassium is involved in the proper functioning of muscles, including skeletal muscles (responsible for voluntary movements) and smooth muscles (found in organs, blood vessels, and the digestive tract).
- It boosts nerve function: Potassium is involved in transmitting nerve impulses throughout the body. It helps generate and regulate electrical signals that allow communication between nerve cells and various organs. This is essential for proper brain function, muscle coordination, and sensory perception.
- Its may support better bone health: Adequate potassium intake has been linked to better bone health. This is because it helps neutralise the excess acids in the body that can cause a reduction of calcium in the body. Additionally, by maintaining a balance between acidity and alkalinity, potassium supports the preservation of bone mineral density and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- It’s critical to better kidney function: Potassium plays key a role in maintaining kidney function. It helps regulate fluid and electrolyte balance in the kidneys, supporting proper filtration and excretion of waste products from the body.
Essentially, potassium is one of the great cleaners that will wash through your body and help you maintain equilibrium and balance.
How to get enough potassium into your diet
This is going to sound a bit like a sales pitch, but a box of Good and Fugly fruit and veg will do the trick. In all seriousness, simply making sure that you get enough wholesome produce into your body will help you maintain good potassium levels.
Potassium comes loaded in such a broad range of fruit and vegetables that you’ll be able to cook up a storm while keeping this nutrient in good supply. You’ll find plenty of it in:
- Bananas: Whether you’re making smoothies or snacking on this iconic fruit, you’re getting a solid dose of potassium as you do so.
- Potatoes: Both white and sweet potatoes contain significant amounts of potassium. For an added dose, find a way of getting the skin into the meal, because potato skin is absolutely loaded with the nutrient. Give your potatoes a scrub, but leave the skin on.
- Spinach: This leafy green vegetable is not only rich in potassium but, as an added benefit, you’ll get a good hit of another critical nutrient, magnesium.
- Avocado: Avocados are not only a source of healthy fats but also contain a decent amount of potassium. And, of course, they’re utterly delicious!
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes and tomato products like tomato sauces are good sources of potassium. This is a good excuse to have a regular Italian pasta day if ever there was one!
- Oranges: We all know that citrus fruits like oranges are in vitamin C but, when you eat them you’re also getting a side dose of potassium for added measure.
- Beans and Lentils: Kidney beans, white beans, and lentils – staples of so many incredible recipes - are all high-potassium legumes, adding nutrients to the bulk that they add to the meal.
- Dried Fruits: Dried apricots, raisins, and prunes are also all good ways to get an extra dose of potassium while you’re snacking.
As you can see, potassium is one of the nutrients that vegans don’t struggle with. It’s actually fairly rare to have a potassium deficiency. However, if you’re coming off an illness or infection you might find your levels have dropped and some medications can cause levels to dip too.
One interesting trivia titbit is one of the few ways that you can develop a potassium deficiency is by eating too much licorice! So don’t do that! Simply eat healthy, balanced diets with plenty of good produce, and your body (and especially your heart) will thank you for the healthy flow of potassium.