Potassium is a vital mineral in the foods we eat. With important jobs like regulating our water balance, blood pressure, and muscle control, its role in maintaining our overall health cannot be understated.
As we age, our bodies need more potassium, but there’s a delicate balance to be maintained. Both too little potassium (hypokalemia) and too much potassium (hyperkalemia) can cause dangerous fatigue and abnormal heart rhythms. Certain medications (including diuretics, albuterol, insulin, and some antipsychotics) can dramatically lower our potassium levels, while improper functioning of our kidneys can result in too high of a potassium level in our bloodstream. Balancing our potassium levels may take patience and a willingness to explore many different potential variables influencing our results.
The impact of maintaining this balance is crucial though. Potassium functions as a major line of defense against the excess sodium brought into the body through modern processed foods. Left unchecked, this excess sodium may cause high blood pressure, which in turn increases our risk of heart disease and stroke.
So Where Do We Get Potassium?
Usually the first food to come to mind when we think about good potassium sources is a banana. For people watching their carb intake though, this can be a turn-off. Nevertheless, since potassium supplements can accidentally trigger hyperkalemia, we shouldn’t give up on nutritional sources just yet.
With careful planning, you can still reach your recommended daily intake with the help of these low-carb green veggies.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Beet Greens
Romaine has become a personal favorite of mine. It’s a great low-calorie option to add into smoothies or a salad, and is full of water to help you stay hydrated too. If you compare the nutritional data for romaine to bananas, you’re getting around 232mg of potassium per 1g of sugar in romaine versus 422mg of potassium per 14g of sugar in a banana.
While brussels sprouts (533mg of potassium to 2.9g of sugar), zucchini (573mg of potassium to 3.7g of sugar), and spinach (839mg of potassium to negligible sugar) all pack a punch, it’s beet greens that really take the cake with 1309mg of potassium to negligible amounts of sugar.
For adults, the recommended daily intake is around 3,400mg for males and 2,600mg for females. So that still leaves a few servings to fit in one way or another.
What potassium sources will you use?