Potassium is an incredibly important mineral the body uses for a variety of functions. It’s essential for maintaining proper fluid balance, nerve impulse and muscle function, building proteins, breaking down carbs for use, maintaining normal cell growth, controlling the heart’s electrical activity, and also sustaining the acid-base balance.
This vital mineral works as one of three blood electrolytes in the body, the other two are sodium and chloride. Electrolytes carry a small charge of electricity and potassium is the primary positive ion found within the cells— where 98 percent of the 120 grams of potassium contained in the body is found. Potassium and sodium work together but have to be in the proper ratio, which should be about four to one. This ration can be achieved by consuming twice as much potassium as sodium, but the sodium and potassium balance is easily thrown off balance by our diet and medications. Today we eat a lot of salt from overly processed convenience foods. Research shows that high-sodium diets with low potassium intake elevates the blood pressure. Too often doctors prescribe diuretics that actually aggravate symptoms of low potassium because our bodies release potassium with water (you literally flush your potassium and health down the toilet!) Lucky potassium can be found in lots of fresh, vegan foods, and the mineral is easily absorbed by the small intestine.
The recommended intake for healthy adults is 4,700mg per day and can be absorbed from pretty much all fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, and even animal products. Some foods are naturally higher than others so if potassium is a concern then these top ten sources should be a regular part of your diet. But, the real surprise of the day is that the banana, widely believed to be a prime source of potassium, does not make the top ten cut!
- Swiss chard, cooked 1 cup, 961mg
- Baked potato, 1 medium, 926mg
- Winter squash, baked 1 cup, 896mg
- Prunes, ½ cup, 637mg
- Roasted soy nuts, ¼ cup, 632mg
- Portobella mushroom, 1 cup, 630mg
- Coconut water, 1 cup (unsweetened) 600mg
- Dried apricots, ¼, 550mg
- Sweet potato, baked 1 medium, 541mg
- Lima beans, ½ cup, 485mg
- Banana, 1 medium, 422mg