According to www.nutritionfacts.org less than 2% of Americans meet their recommended minimum adequate intake of potassium. This is in large part to our avoidance of veggies! So, what's the big deal you ask? I thought potassium was just for cramps. I don't have cramps; so, I'm good right? Wrong. Let's have a crash course in potassium.
Potassium - "It is also an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is crucial to heart function and plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function". - University of Maryland.
Ok, so what does it do?
Helps maintain the balance of electrolytes in your body
Helps your kidneys filter blood
Helps the heart beat
Helps manage blood pressure
Helps the muscles contract
Helps deliver oxygen to the brain which helps your cognitive abilities
Helps metabolism by helping to release energy from protein, carbs, and fats
Helps your nervous system
Wow, that's a lot! It looks like potassium is more important that I thought! How do I get more in my diet? Eat your veggies!
It is important to have a healthy balance of potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium and the best way to get this balance is trough a variety of whole food! Real foods; eat all the colors! in other words, eat food that rots, but eat it before it does and you will be on your way to reaching your goals.
You don't have to eat bananas all day to get your potassium, it can be found in many foods. Here are a few:
Tomato sauces (watch the sodium)
All of these foods are packed with other nutrients our bodies need too. To get the most out of your foods try putting foods together that help the body better absorb the nutrients, such as olive oil on your veg to help your body better absorb fat soluable vitamins like A, D, E and K or eat vitamin C with Iron rich food to help your body better absorb the iron. Try serving broccoli with your steak!
Here is a potassium packed dish to get you started:
Roasted Vegetables, 1-2 servings - I eat this as one serving as part of a yummy lunch!
1 yellow, crook neck squash
1 large radish
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Olive Oil
Chop the vegetables in large chunks and toss in olive oil and your favorite seasoning, I used Greek Seasoning from Penzey's spices. Then Roast at 425 for 15 minutes or desired firmness. The crispier the better! That is it! It is very easy to roast vegetables and it brings out amazing flavor.
According to Caloriecount.com this one bowl of veggies comes in at 1, 159 mg of potassium. The daily recommendation is 4700, so it isn't enough, but it is a good start. Plus it has 6.5 g protein, 6.4 g fiber, 785 IU vitamin A, 75 mg vitamin C, 81 mg Calcium, and 2.8 mg Iron! That is a powerhouse bowl of veggies!
Try adding kale to your smoothies and finding a way to add fruits and veggies to every meal. If you do this on a regular basis, your taste buds will begin to love it and your body will crave it, and you will find it is easy to meet your potassium needs.
Today I had the veggies above and a smoothie with homemade yogurt, strawberries, banana, a cup of kale, 1 cup of milk and 2 scoops Shaklee Life Shake. This brought my potassium up to 3028 mg for the day so far! Looking good!
I try to buy organic veg etables and non-gmo foods because I feel it is the best choice for our family, but they can be more expensive and it is better to eat your veggies then to skip them all together because organic was too expensive. Do what you can as you can!