High blood pressure has been linked in numerous studies to such ailments as heart disease and stroke, erectile dysfunction, vision and hearing changes, kidney disease, and even may have links to increased likelihood for dementia.
A wonderful natural way to help lower high blood pressure is to increase foods rich in potassium while decreasing intake of foods high in sodium. An essential micronutrient, potassium is responsible for regulating fluid balance in the body, controlling the activity of the heart and other muscles, and counteracts the potentially harmful effects of sodium.
The top 10 sources of sodium in our diets, which include a lot of food we find quite tasty are, in order: breads and rolls, luncheon meats, pizza, poultry, soups, cheeseburgers and other sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, canned foods, and snack foods like potato chips and pretzels. These foods account for 50% of all the sodium we eat in a day. Changing your sodium to potassium ratio intake of foods can dramatically change your risks for developing high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 mg per day).
When potassium is mentioned, most people think of bananas, but there are loads of potassium in many of the most common foods we eat. Here are 5 vegetables and 5 fruits (other than bananas) high in potassium that you probably were not aware of but should very much consider adding to your diet.
1. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are a fantastic source of potassium. One cup of spinach contains about 839mg, beet greens about 442mg, and amaranth leaves contain as much as 980mg, so don’t skip the salad. Also consider dandelion greens, arugula, Swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.
2. Regular and sweet Potato with skin
A large sized potato contains approximately 845 milligrams of potassium, with about 88% in the skin. Potato skins are also a great source of iron, providing as much as 57 percent of the daily recommended values for men, and 25 percent for women. Sweet potatoes make a great casserole, go great with Mexican dishes, and are great additives to salads. Consider that sweet potatoes have about 950mg of potassium per one medium-sized specimen and you have one sweet source of potassium.
3. Bean and Legumes
The highest source of potassium is contained in lima beans, containing 896mg of potassium per cup of cooked beans, though all beans and legumes should be considered.
4. Brassica vegetables
Brussel sprouts are the potassium king in this cherished family of vegetables coming in at 495 mg of potassium per cup, though broccoli is a close second at 547 mg of potassium per cup
5. Acorn Squash
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s no better time to load up on potassium than now. Acorn squash are not only delicious, they also contain approximately 900mg of potassium per cup.
Not only are avocados rich in essential fatty acids, which also help with heart health, but an average sized avocado also has about 1068mg of potassium. Next time, pass on the salsa and enjoy the guacamole.
Guava is a tropical fruit that my sons and I enjoyed daily while living on the Big Island of Hawaii. We ate them whole, made smoothies with them, even made guava ice cubes and ice cream. They contain a whopping 688mg of potassium per cup.
When you find a good kiwi and allow it to ripen to flavor, there’s nothing quite like it. This fantastic fuzzy fruit packs 592mg of potassium per cup.
Both cantaloupe and honeydew take time to grow to size but once ready can provide an excellent source of potassium for you. I always think of melon salads, breakfast treats, or melon ice cubes to enjoy.
These tiny fruits are excellent sources of beta carotenes. They also, both fresh and dried, provide over 400mg of potassium per serving.
We’re all familiar with bananas, but next time you’re in the grocery store, give another rich source of potassium a try. Many foods are much more loaded with this essential mineral and can help break the monotony of a banana-centric diet. Make a difference in your blood pressure levels by choosing to use foods as medicine.