Potassium is one of the bodies essential minerals which we mostly get from potassium foods. It plays a vital role in health, with actions of regulating fluid within the body through the kidneys, assisting muscle function, calcium maintenance and ensuring the nervous system is running smoothly. It also plays an absolute vital role in cardiovascular health and maintenance. Its most well-known job is to help maintain a healthy blood pressure and keep the heart beating regularly. How this happens is that potassium balances out sodium, with this balance being crucial in reducing the risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke1.
The body does a pretty good job at maintaining this balance. But, like many things to do with health, the diet plays a key role! When humans first started roaming the earth, we ate a predominantly plant-based diet that was full of potassium-rich foods; likewise, it was very low in sodium rich foods2. Unlike today, where humanity’s standard diet is full of sodium hidden in processed foods and much lower in potassium rich foods – we find ourselves in a pandemic of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease affects 4 million Australian’s, it is the cause of 1 in 4 deaths. Furthermore, three quarters of Australians are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Most research has found that cardiovascular disease is completely preventable through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Although most Australian’s know that this is the case, 4 out of 5 don’t do enough physical activity and 9 in 10 don’t eat enough vegetables3.
Research has found that a potassium-rich diet (mainly from fruits & veggies) can reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension by helping remove excess sodium4. Eating a potassium-rich diet has also been found to act as a preventative measure for hypertension, as amongst the general population, those that eat a diet higher in potassium had blood pressure that was 6mmHg (systolic) and 4mmHg (diastolic) lower on average5.
Over the counter supplements are not a great way to increase your potassium intake – having high potassium can also be detrimental to your health. Diet is the best way to improve your levels and it is highly unlikely that you will get too much from diet alone. A potassium-rich diet includes a diet abundant in whole foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. This also goes hand-in-hand with reducing processed foods that not only reduce the levels of potassium, but also hide high amounts of sodium!
An adequate intake of potassium is 3,400mg a day for males and 2,600mg a day for females6.
There are many foods that contain potassium, but here are a few of our favourite that are easy additions to your diet:
909mg of Potassium in 1000mg serve, beet greens are a healthy addition to the diet are full of potassium! They also contain an abundance of other important vitamins and nutrients. Other great leafy greens such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and Bok choy all have a great amount of potassium per serve. Fun fact: boiling/frying leafy greens increases their potassium as well as antioxidant levels.
Fresh fruit and veg are always better – but when not in season, dried fruit can be a great potassium rich snack – just check for sugar levels. Dried apricots are one of the top sources of potassium, with 750mg per half-cup.
Who is happy to eat potatoes? Everyone! Both white and sweet potatoes when baked have around 500mg per 100g – just be easy on the salt/oil additions we tend to make on potatoes. They also have a good source of fibre, vitamin C and even iron!
Pumpkin is high in potassium, with approximately 340mg in 100 grams. It also contains vitamin C, fibre, and beta-carotenes all of which can improve cardiovascular health.
Beans and other legumes are a great component of a healthy diet. They’re full of protein and fibre as well. Considering potassium is good for your kidneys – the hint is in it’s name! Kidney beans are full of potassium with 713mg in one cup! They’re a great and easy addition to salads, but if you’re buying them canned, make sure you rinse them off to reduce sodium content.
Quite possibly the most well-known source of potassium, a medium banana has roughly 420mg of potassium. They’re easy to find year-round and can be enjoyed as a quick snack.
Surprisingly, kiwifruit has nearly as much potassium in one small fruit as a medium banana! Kiwifruits are also a great source of vitamin C and fibre.
Not only does avocado contain a great source of good fats that are beneficial to cardiovascular health, they’re also full of potassium. It’s a win-win (although not if you want to buy a house 😉). One avocado will yield approximately 690mg of potassium, plus it will help balance cholesterol.
Fresh tomatoes have a good amount of potassium (292 mg in one medium tomato). Concentrated and dried tomatoes also have a good serving of potassium too – for example, a half cup of sundried tomatoes has 925mg of potassium! Just be careful to watch out for additional salts and sugars in concentrated forms.
Orange juice can be another way to add around 500mg of potassium to your daily diet – just through one cup alone! Always opt for the freshest options with the least amount of additional sugars. Ideally, squeeze your own and enjoy fresh.
Potassium is an essential minerals. Plant-based foods are great sources of potassium that can help to maintain the health of kidneys, bones and in particular the cardiovascular system. Improving your intake of potassium can not only help reduce blood pressure but reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Use this list above to add to your shopping list some great sources of potassium! If you need more assistance to improve cardiovascular health, check out our range of products here.
Sign up to get 5% off your first order, exclusive access to our special offers, new arrivals and more.