Potassium is one of the most abundant minerals of the human body that is essential for carrying out vital body functions. It is important for healthy functioning of organs such as kidney brain, heart and muscle tissues. Deficiency of this mineral can lead to palpitations, irregular heartbeats, anemia, hypertension, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and slower reflexes. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and poultry is the best way to maintain potassium at healthy level in the body.
Natural Food Sources of Potassium
A healthy and well-planned diet rich in fruits and vegetables is enough to supply the necessary amount of potassium to the body and in most cases there is no requirement for supplementation. Here we have listed some of the vegetables and fruits rich in potassium.
- Vegetables: Potatoes, Spinach, Peas, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus, Zucchini, Kale, Brussels sprouts, Mushrooms
- Fruits: Bananas, Avocados, Oranges, Strawberries, kiwi Fruits, Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines, Prunes, Dates
Health Benefits of Potassium
Potassium is an essential nutrient that is crucial for pumping of blood by the heart, movement of muscles, transfer of nerve impulses and blood purification by the kidney. Here we have listed a few important uses of potassium by the body.
Controlling Blood Pressure
One of the most common reasons of high blood pressure is the increased level of sodium in the blood. Excessive dependence on processed and packed foods has aggravated this problem because packed foods have a high concentration of sodium. Consumption of foods rich in potassium can help in solving this problem by balancing the level of sodium and potassium in blood, which is important for maintaining blood pressure at normal level. Potassium, which has vasodilation properties relaxes the blood vessels and helps in protecting and improving cardiovascular health by reducing the pressure of blood on the walls of arteries and blood vessels.
Maintaining Brain Functions
Potassium health benefits also include the improvement of brain functions. This mineral plays an important role in transportation of oxygen to the brain, thus boosting the functions of the neurons and improves brain functions and memory. It also helps in diminishing the risk of brain strokes and epilepsy. It helps in improving memory, learning and concentration. Potassium helps in controlling the neural functions and transfer of electrical currents all over the body. Symptoms of low potassium include irregular heartbeats, muscle cramps, weakness and dizziness.
Improving Bone Health
Potassium is extremely beneficial for improving bone health and reducing the risk of bone related diseases like osteoporosis. Potassium helps in neutralizing certain metabolic acids in the body that increases calcium retention by reducing calcium loss through urine, thus improving bone strength and durability. A high potassium diet that includes fruits and vegetables has been shown to improve bone mineral density, thereby reducing bone erosion and brittleness of bones. Therefore, it is important to include 5 to 6 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to daily diet to improve the level of potassium in blood.
Relieving Stress and Anxiety
Constant work pressure and family commitments lead to increasing stress and anxiety. Although, it is an unavoidable mental state by it is important to manage stress and anxiety in order to have a healthy and cheerful life. Foods have a profound impact on the level of stress and high potassium foods can help in relieving chronic stress by regulating the release of stress hormones, namely – cortisol and adrenaline in the body. So, reach for a banana or a few slices of avocado instead of stress relieving medicines the next time you feel blue and lift your mood instantly.
Relieving Muscle Cramps
A muscle cramp in often caused by lack of potassium and the condition is known as hypokalemia. Consumption of foods with potassium can help in relieving this problem. Potassium also helps in treating muscle contractions and other muscle disorders by easing the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Potassium is essential for maintenance of optimal nerve and muscle function and fast reflexes because it is the basis of neural connectivity between muscles and the brain. In addition, potassium is also essential for growth and development of muscle tissues through the optimum utilization of energy produced through metabolism.
Controlling Blood Sugar
Potassium is essential for maintenance of blood sugar at healthy levels. Lack of potassium in the blood can lead to fall in blood sugar levels which lead to weakness, headache, excessive sweating, nervousness, etc. Intake of potassium and sodium rich foods can help in correcting this imbalance. Sudden plunges or spikes in blood sugar levels is extremely harmful for those suffering from type 2 diabetes and therefore, it is important for diabetic patients to maintain normal potassium levels at all times.
Metabolism can be defined as the collection of chemical reactions that take place in the body which leads to maintenance and growth of the living organism. Potassium plays an important role in boosting metabolism, thereby speeding up the process of breakdown of carbohydrates and fats by the cells of the body. Therefore, a potassium rich diet is not only helpful for faster weight loss, but also for increasing the production of energy from the foods consumed. Research shows that, potassium also plays a pivotal role in protein synthesis which has a potent impact on cell regeneration, growth and repair.
Regulating Fluid Balance
Another health benefits of potassium it that it is a great electrolyte that helps in maintaining the fluid balance of the human body. Our bodies are made of various kinds of cells and each and every cell requires optimum water balance for its proper functioning. Potassium helps in regulating this balance in the organs of the body so that they can carry out body functions. Electrolytes are also required for the transfer of impulses from the brain to various organs. Therefore, it is suggested to have foods rich in potassium such as bananas or a glass of orange juice after strenuous workout sessions or heavy drinking during the night before in order to restore fluid balance.
Plan your diet to include foods rich in potassium at every meal to control blood pressure, regulate blood glucose level and boost metabolism naturally without the use of medication.
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