There are many delicious foods that can boast containing a high amount of the mineral and electrolyte, Potassium – but is this actually something that we need to care about? What does Potassium even do?
If you are feeling a little confused or simply don’t have any idea what it even is, you aren’t alone – according to NutritionFacts.org, 98% of American diets are deficient in Potassium. Surprisingly, it is actually an incredibly important mineral for your body! It helps regulate many essential body functions but if you’re still feeling confused, don’t worry, by the end of this article you will be filling up on Potassium rich foods like bananas!
Heart health – Potassium helps your muscles contract, which is obviously great but let’s not forget that this also includes one particularly important muscle – your heart! It also assists the muscles that control your ability to breathe.
Fluid regulation – Along with Sodium, Potassium helps regulate the amount of fluid in the interior and exterior of your cells. Too much fluid can cause cells to swell or burst, whereas too little can cause them to shrink. Dehydration is also caused by improper fluid balance, so as you can see Potassium is essential!
Nerve function – Potassium and Sodium also help generate nerve impulses – this happens by Sodium ions going into cells and the Potassium ions leaving the cells. The nervous system uses nerve impulses to perform functions like regulating muscle contractions, as well as your reflexes.
Blood pressure – It is believed that Potassium can help reduce blood pressure because it can help the body by removing excess Sodium. As you can see, a proper Potassium and Sodium balance is essential for optimum health.
Symptoms of a Potassium deficiency can include irregular heartbeat, digestive issues (constipation, nausea, vomiting), muscle spasms and extreme fatigue.
As you can see, Potassium is essential to many body functions and staying healthy, however in some cases it is possible to develop hyperkalemia from having too much (it is important to note though that is quite rare, particularly in those with balanced, whole foods diets). Severe symptoms of hyperkalemia can include an irregular heartbeat and can be caused by kidney disease, diabetes, cocaine use and taking potassium supplements excessively.
Fruits: Bananas, avocados, apricots, kiwi, oranges, pineapples, beans
Vegetables: Peas, kale, spinach, sweet potato, portobello mushrooms, carrots, white potato