The Best Sources of Potassium

beets1Why is it important to know the best sources of potassium? According to the Institute of Medicine, Adequate Intake for potassium (AI) is 4,700 mg. To put this in perspective, the average US male only consumes approximately 3,000 mg of potassium per day, while the average US woman only consumes 2,300 mg. This is made worse by the fact that Americans typically consume three times more sodium than potassium! The ratio of sodium to potassium is opposite of what it should be. Ideally, potassium intake should be about twice the amount of sodium intake. People from pre-industrialized cultures usually consume seven times more potassium than sodium. Adequate potassium intake is extremely important for maintaining cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle function. People who consume adequate levels of potassium have less incidence of stroke, kidney stones, and osteoporosis.

Below I’ve compiled a list of foods that are the best sources of potassium. Beet greens, a little-used green, came out on top! Beet greens are also a great source of calcium, so next time you buy some organic beets be sure to enjoy the leafy tops in addition to the sweet root! Like beets, most foods that are high in potassium tend to be rich in other important nutrients as well. An easy way to get more potassium in one’s diet is to replace grains with potatoes and beans, and to replace refined foods with more whole foods in general.

  • 1,300 mg – Beet Greens (1 cup cooked)
  • 961 mg – Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked)
  • 955 mg – Lima Beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 952 mg – Potatoes (1 medium baked)
  • 911 mg – Yams (1 cup cooked)
  • 896 mg – Acorn Squash (1 cup cooked)
  • 746 mg – Pinto Beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 742 mg – Kidney Beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 731 mg – Lentils (1 cup cooked)
  • 689 mg – Avocado (1 medium)
  • 650 mg – Spinach (1 cup cooked)
  • 520 mg – Beets (1 cup cooked)
  • 514 mg – Almonds (1/2 cup, dry roasted)
  • 439 mg – Cod (3 oz fillet cooked)
  • 410 mg – Carrot (1 cup, raw, chopped)
  • 390 mg – Crimini Mushrooms (1 cup, raw)
  • 380 mg – Yogurt (1 cup, plain, whole)
  • 387 mg – Salmon (3 oz fillet cooked)
  • 362 mg – Banana (1 small)
  • 360 mg – Papaya (1 cup, cubed)
  • 350 mg – Dark chocolate (50 grams , 85% cocoa or more)
  • 349 mg – Milk (1 cup, whole)
  • 307 mg – Coconut meat (1 cup dried)
  • 313 mg – Beef steak (3 oz fillet cooked)
  • 288 mg – Broccoli (1 cup raw)
  • 255 mg – English Walnuts (1/2 cup raw)
  • 240 mg – Macadamia nuts (1/2 cup dry roasted)
  • 217 mg – Orange (1 medium)
  • 205 mg – Prunes (1 oz dried)
  • 210 mg – Raisins (1 oz)

I recommend tracking your nutrient intake on Fitday for a couple of days to find out if you’re getting enough potassium to prevent disease. I don’t personally like tracking what I’m eating everyday, but I find recording my diet for at least a week or so helps me get my nutrition goals on track!

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Originally posted 2013-02-07 20:09:00.

Potatoes – a tubular superfood!

Starchy carbohydrate-filled little calorie bombs, coated in refined salt and fried in poly-unsaturated fat, creation’s tubular superfood has been given a horrible reputation!  It’s time to redeem the potato’s righteous place on our plates.  The potato shouldn’t be guilty for the health crimes committed by potato chip manufacturers and fast food restaurants.  In and of itself the potato is an incredibly healthy food – it’s how it’s cooked and what it’s cooked in (often refined seed/vegetable oils) that can make eating potatoes hazardous to health.  If you follow the guidelines in this article, you’ll discover how and why to include potatoes as part of a healthy, creation-based diet.

The evidence: While we’ve ruined potatoes by frying them in refined oil (which promotes weight gain and throws off the body’s proper Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio), people from cultures around the world have enjoyed potatoes as a staple food and maintained excellent health for thousands of years.  Before the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849, potatoes were the primary food source for the Irish.  Reports reveal that the general population was in excellent health – the men were well nourished and muscular, and fertility rates were high.  In fact, there’s reason to believe that introduction of the potato to Europe contributed to significant population growth in the entire continent.  

The potato was first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in Peru and was a staple food in the diets of many South American peoples, including the Incas.  Hundreds of different varieties were grown that provided varying amounts of almost every known vitamin and mineral, as well as a number of other health-promoting phytonutrients.  Today there are only a few commercially grown varieties available in the U.S., but these can still contribute a significant amount of healthy nutrients to one’s diet.  Potatoes contain high amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese, phosphorous, and copper, as well as vitamins C, B6, and thiamin.   The potato’s potassium content is especially important.  

Potatoes contains more potassium than even bananas or broccoli.  Potassium is crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure and muscle function.  Recent studies indicate that consuming enough potassium might be more important than reducing salt intake for good cardiovascular health, and many Americans are potassium-deficient.

Surprising as it may be, potatoes are also a decent source of protein.  While there are only a couple of grams of protein per potato, eaten as a staple, potatoes can still provide quite a bit of protein.  Potatoes are also unique in that they contain a complete protein.  The quality of the protein is likely what enabled people, like the Irish, to maintain good health on a predominately potato diet.  

A couple of years ago a potato farmer from Washington named Chris Voigt set out to redeem the potato’s good name by going on an all potato diet for 60-days, eating 20 potatoes per day.  The result  — he lost 21 lbs and lowered his cholesterol by 67 points!   While an all-potato diet isn’t the most balanced our healthiest long term diet, it’s clear that potatoes aren’t the cause of weight gain.  Given their history as a healthy staple food, their high vitamin and mineral content, and the quality of protein they contain, I think the argument can be made that potatoes are actually a superfood.  To top it all off, potatoes are gluten free, making them a great alternative source of carbohydrates for those who are gluten-sensitive.  

How to enjoy: Eat them almost anyway except for fried in refined seed oil (which means no potato chips or fast-food french fries).  The one concern with potatoes is that they contain natural pesticides (like most other plants) called glycoalkaloids that can be harmful to humans if consumed in large quantities.  Glycoalkaloids are found mostly in and directly underneath the skin.  Peeling the skin will remove most of the glycoalkaloid content of domesticated varieties, so if you eat potatoes often, it’s best to peel them.  Also, avoid potatoes that are sprouting or turning green — these potatoes can have higher glycoalkaloid content.  

If peeled, potatoes can also be eaten raw.  Try adding them diced to salads or vegetable trays.  When pan frying potatoes, use a little bit of butter/olive oil/ or coconut oil, instead of refined seed oils, and a small amount of water.  

Together we can redeem the potato’s reputation as one of creation’s truly tubular foods — a gluten-free source of potassium, vitamin C, healthy energy, and quality protein!

Originally posted 2013-01-24 00:40:00.