Potassium, an alkali metal, is a highly reactive element required for good human health and function. The human body requires potassium because it works as an electrolyte and helps in electrical charges. There are many benefits of potassium-rich foods. Aside from conducting electrical charges, potassium promotes cardiovascular health by lowering the risk of stroke. It helps in the reduction or control of excessive blood pressure and is also beneficial to bone health. The bone formation may be effectively increased by eating a balanced diet high in potassium.
This article gives a detailed overview of potassium as well as the benefits of potassium-rich foods.
What Is Potassium?
Potassium is a mineral that you can find in many different foods. It also serves as an electrolyte. Electrolytes are substances that conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. They help with a variety of essential body functions, including:
- Blood pressure
- Normal water balance
- Muscle contractions
- Nerve impulses
- Heart rhythm
- pH balance (acidity and alkalinity)
Potassium is not produced by your body naturally. As a result, it is important to have a balanced diet of potassium-rich foods and beverages.
Potassium deficiency can cause significant health problems. However, taking in too much might result in short-term or long-term health problems. Because they remove extra potassium through urine, healthy kidneys keep the body’s potassium levels regular.
Daily potassium intake (and why it matters)
Potassium is a mineral essential for the proper functioning of your heart, kidneys, muscles, and nerves. Low potassium levels can raise blood pressure, increase the risk of kidney stones, and even pull calcium from your bones.
Diets high in potassium-rich foods and low in sodium may lower the risk of hypertension and stroke.
Despite its importance, many people do not consume as much potassium as they need. As a result, it has been classified as a “nutrient of public health concern” in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
How much potassium do you need? Experts recommend a daily intake of 2,600 mg for women and 3,400 milligrams for males. Previously, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggested 4,700 milligrams per day. But the amount was updated in 2019 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. So getting your daily dosage of potassium is now even easier.
Benefits of potassium-rich foods
Potassium is an electrolyte that the body needs to function properly. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), potassium-rich meals can help control blood pressure by decreasing the negative impact of sodium.
High sodium levels can raise the risk of developing high blood pressure. Potassium reduces this risk in healthy persons by helping the body in the removal of salt. It also helps in blood pressure control by relaxing the blood vessel walls.
Here are the 6 amazing benefits of potassium:
1. It Helps in the Prevention of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disorder in which the bones become hollow and porous. It is often linked to low calcium levels, which is an important mineral for bone health.
Interestingly, studies suggest that a potassium-rich diet may help prevent osteoporosis by reducing the amount of calcium lost through urine.
In a study of 62 healthy women aged 45–55, researchers found that those who consumed the most potassium had the largest overall bone mass.
In a recent study of 994 healthy premenopausal women, researchers discovered that those who consumed the most potassium had more bone density in their lower back and hip bones.
2. Bone and muscle maintenance
Potassium may be beneficial to bone health. Studies According to a reliable source, those who consume many potassium-rich fruits and vegetables may have better bone mineral density.
However, more studies will be conducted to confirm this. If the finding is correct, researchers will need to determine why it happened and whether supplements have the same impact.
A potassium-rich diet may also help preserve muscle mass in the older and those suffering from muscle wasting diseases.
3. It helps in the prevention of kidney stones
Kidney stones are material clumps that can develop in concentrated urine. Calcium is a common mineral found in kidney stones, and numerous studies have shown that potassium citrate reduces calcium levels in urine.
In this way, potassium may help in the prevention of kidney stones.
Potassium citrate is found in many fruits and vegetables, so it’s easy to include in your diet.
In a four-year study of 45,619 males, researchers discovered that those who ingested the most potassium daily had a 51% lower risk of kidney stones.
Similarly, in a 12-year study of 91,731 women, researchers discovered that those who consumed the most potassium daily had a 35% lower risk of kidney stones.
4. It can reduce water retention
Excess fluid builds up inside the body, causing water retention. Potassium has historically been used to treat water retention.
According to research, increasing urine production and lowering sodium levels can help reduce water retention.
A potassium-rich diet has been shown to lower blood pressure and water retention, protect against strokes and help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and kidney stones.
5. It can help lower blood pressure
Nearly one in every three Americans suffers from high blood pressure. It is a risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death globally.
A potassium-rich diet may lower blood pressure by helping the body discharging excess sodium. Conversely, high sodium levels can increase blood pressure, especially in those who already have high blood pressure.
An analysis of 33 studies found that increasing potassium intake by people with high blood pressure reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.49 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.96 mmHg.
Another research with 1,285 participants aged 25–64 found that persons who ate the most potassium had lower blood pressure than those who ate the least.
On average, those who consumed the most had a 6 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and a 4 mmHg lower diastolic blood pressure.
6. It helps in the prevention of strokes
When there is a lack of blood supply to the brain, a stroke occurs. Every year, it is the cause of mortality for more than 130,000 Americans. A potassium-rich diet may help prevent strokes, according to many studies.
Scientists found that those who ate the most potassium had a 24% reduced risk of stroke than people who ate the least potassium in an analysis of 33 studies, including 128,644 participants.
Moreover, an analysis of 11 research including 247,510 participants found that persons who consumed the highest potassium had a 21% reduced risk of stroke. They also found that consuming a diet high in this mineral was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Sources of Potassium
Potassium is abundant in a wide variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and fish. The majority of health experts believe that consuming 3,500–4,700 mg of potassium per day appears to be the best amount.
Here’s how much potassium you can get from a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of potassium-rich foods:
- Beet greens, cooked: 909 mg
- Yams, baked: 670 mg
- Pinto beans, cooked: 646 mg
- White potatoes baked: 544 mg
- Portobello mushrooms, grilled: 521 mg
- Avocado: 485 mg
- Sweet potato, baked: 475 mg
- Spinach, cooked: 466 mg
- Kale: 447 mg
- Salmon, cooked: 414 mg
- Bananas: 358 mg
- Peas, cooked: 271 mg
The Bottom Line
Potassium is one of the essential minerals in the human body. It helps in the control of fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Moreover, a high-potassium diet may help reduce blood pressure and water retention, prevent stroke, and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the population takes enough potassium. Therefore, consume more potassium-rich foods, such as beet greens, spinach, kale, and salmon, to obtain more in your diet.