Potassium Rich Food: Paving The Way To Better Health
Potassium is a positive force inside the body! Literally. It is a stuntman, the Evel Knievel of elements. So how do you make sure you’re eating enough potassium rich food, and is it even possible?
As a mineral and an electrolyte, positively charged potassium ions sit inside the cell (intracellular), and work together with sodium and chloride (on the outside - extracellular) to hold the shape of the cell and conduct electricity.
As an element - you have to think back to your school days and the periodic table - potassium is represented by the letter ‘K’ (maybe for Knievel) and is highly reactive in its pure state. In fact, if exposed to water, potassium will catch alight in a dramatic burst of purple flames.
For this reason, it’s never found alone in nature. Nature put a stop to that quick smart after calcium (who sits next to potassium) lost her eyebrows…
Potassium is essentially required for our health for proper fluid balance, to transmit nerve impulses, to contract muscles and even to digest food.
The good news is, potassium rich food can be found in abundance. Dancing their way into the top 10, the all time most potassium rich foods are:
Beans (with white beans topping the list)
Spinach (and other dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens and swiss chard)
Baked potatoes, with their skin on
Dried apricots (prunes, raisins and apricots too, though they have a very high sugar content)
Baked squash or pumpkin
Fish (salmon is the best, but better from the wild than farmed)
That’s a pretty easy and very accessible shopping list of potassium rich food.
Supplemental potassium, however, has the most evidence for lowering blood pressure, protecting against stroke, keeping bones strong and possibly preventing kidney damage
Electrolytes From Potassium Rich Foods
Potassium is most known for its role as an electrolyte, a word most athletes are all too familiar with. This is due to the essential role they play when used for hydration in a combination with magnesium, sodium and other electrolytes commonly found in sports drinks and powders.
It’s good to point out here that distance runners and swimmers have gained this same effect by eating liquified ripe bananas! A potassium rich food for sure.
Electrolytes probably deserve some explanation at this stage of the game.
They are tiny molecules, such as sodium, magnesium and potassium, that conduct electricity through the body. Electrolyte deficiency is associated with symptoms like muscle cramping, heart palpitations and fatigue.
They can be depleted by hormonal imbalance, kidney failure or dehydration. Sportspeople, the elderly and those on prescription medication are at particular risk of electrolyte imbalance.
The Role Potassium Plays In Our Bodies
With all of these electrolytes racing around it is no wonder they deliver a variety of health benefits, including:
✔ The release and function of hormones
✔ Maintaining the tone of blood vessels
✔ Blood pressure control
✔ The ‘squeezing’ and ‘mixing’ action of digestive organs
✔ Maintaining the right acid/alkaline balance in the body
✔ Blood sugar regulation
✔ Kidney function
Potassium comes with the likely therapeutic benefits of:
→ Protection against stroke
Studies show a significant reduction in the risk of stroke with a higher potassium intake - as much as 24% less!
→ Protection against heart disease
This is most likely due to potassium reducing blood pressure, especially when working with CoQ10, which can also be found in Athletic Greens. Recently, a study was released directly linking potassium supplementation to lowered blood pressure in Chinese people with hypertension.
This came on the tail of an additional study undertaken to improve blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals. It worked to such a degree that it was proven as effective as prescribed blood pressure drugs, but without all of the nasty side effects!
→ For bone health
Working with alpha lipoic acid and chromium, potassium appears to help bones retain calcium and remain strong. Potassium can also help to regulate blood sugar levels in conjunction with calcium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium. Of course, all of these can be found in Athletic Greens.
→ Helping people with (or at risk of) diabetes
Potassium is involved in glucose metabolism and the function of insulin. Lower levels of potassium have been associated with a higher risk of diabetes.
→ Aiding those affected by fatigue
Because potassium plays such a vital role in conducting electrical signals through the body, regulating blood pressure, fluid balance and the very structure of each cell, a deficiency is strongly associated with feelings of low energy.
→ Possible protection of the kidneys
Especially against kidney stones and after stroke.
Potassium Rich Food Vs. Potassium Supplements
Most non-prescription supplements contain low levels of potassium, due to possible complications at high doses. The recommended daily potassium intake for adults is 4700 mg from food sources, with supplements generally available in 99 mg dosages or less.
Clearly though, it is harder to regulate how much potassium you are actually receiving from the food you consume.
A common misconception is that potassium supplements can be taken in high doses just like magnesium, but this is not the case. Taking too much potassium can be very risky and it should not be taken as a supplement on its own without medical advice.
Both low potassium (hypokalemia) and high potassium (hyperkalemia) pose very real risks for human health, so potassium supplementation to correct an existing imbalance should always be monitored closely by medical professionals.
Side effects of potassium supplementation can range from gastrointestinal upset to cardiac arrhythmia at high doses.
Anyone with kidney disease or on prescribed medication should speak to their healthcare provider before taking potassium or binging on liquified bananas.
Most of the evidence points strongly in favour of higher dietary potassium, because it can protect against stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, low bone density and kidney stones.
The potassium found in Athletic Greens is as a result of the natural levels of potassium contained in all the fruit and vegetables powders and extracts. Not from an individual potassium supplement.
As more and more people eat processed foods and reduce their fresh fruit intake, their sodium intake is likely to increase while their potassium intake is likely to decrease. Athletic Greens can help to correct this imbalance.
So in this fast paced world, if you don’t have time to access and cook those potassium rich foods, then finding your daily dose in Athletic Greens is a pretty great contingency plan.