17 potassium-rich foods that help us fight high blood pressure

Hypertension is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting millions of people worldwide. While there are many treatments available for controlling high blood pressure, an approach that focuses on diet can bring significant benefits.

Potassium-rich foods have been increasingly recognised as an effective tool in managing blood pressure and cardiovascular health in general. Let’s find out why potassium is indispensable to the human body, as well as the 17 most popular potassium-rich foods.

What is potassium?

Potassium is one of the most common minerals in the human body, 98% of which is found in the body’s cells. This micronutrient is essential to our health, bringing with it a long list of benefits.

In our body, potassium works like an electrolyte – it dissolves in water and generates negative and positive ions, helping in various electrical processes in the body such as nerve signals or muscle contractions.

What are the main functions of potassium?

Below, we discuss in detail which body functions are improved by regular potassium consumption.

Regulates fluid balance in the body

Electrolytes such as potassium or sodium are essential in regulating the level of intracellular and extracellular fluids in our body.

When electrolyte levels inside and outside cells are in balance, fluids will also be in balance. If this balance is not maintained by regular electrolyte consumption, fluids will start to move to the side containing more electrolytes. This can lead either to the cells shrinking (if too much water is leaking out), or swelling (if too much water is entering the cells).

This fluid balance is essential for our health. An imbalance can lead to dehydration which can affect heart and kidney health.

Helps the nervous system

As mentioned above, potassium is an electrolyte that helps the well-being of the nervous system by activating nerve impulses. These impulses regulate muscle contractions including the heart, body reflexes and more.

A low level of potassium in the body can lead to difficulties in generating these nerve impulses. The heart may start beating irregularly, and stop pumping blood and oxygen efficiently.

Bananas are probably the most popular source of potassium

Why include potassium-rich foods in your diet?

Consuming a high amount of potassium can help prevent many conditions. Below we list some of the most important reasons to include potassium in your daily diet.

Potassium reduces blood pressure

Numerous studies show that a diet rich in potassium helps to remove excess sodium from the body, a well-known cause of high blood pressure.

Potassium could prevent strokes

A large study of 128,600 participants showed that a diet high in potassium resulted in up to a 24% decrease in the risk of stroke.

Potassium can prevent osteoporosis

Another benefit of potassium is that it regulates the amount of calcium that our body excretes through urine. Studies show that higher potassium intake leads to higher bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Potassium can prevent kidney stones

Also by regulating the amount of calcium excreted by the body through urine, potassium helps prevent kidney stones. One study showed that the risk of kidney stones is up to 51% lower in people who consume a high amount of potassium.

17 foods rich in potassium

Here are some potassium-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet to keep your blood pressure under control:

  • Bananas: Probably the best-known source of potassium, bananas are easy to integrate into your daily diet. Whether you eat them as a snack or add them to smoothies or cereals, bananas are a delicious and healthy choice.
  • Sweet potatoes: A great alternative to regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are a rich source of potassium and nutrients like vitamin A and dietary fiber. You can bake, boil or cook them in a variety of ways to add diversity to your diet.
  • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, and other green leafy vegetables are full of potassium and other essential nutrients. Add them to salads, soups or smoothies to ensure adequate potassium intake.
  • Avocado: Avocado is a rich source of healthy fats, fibre and potassium. Consumed regularly, it can help maintain cardiovascular health.
  • Legumes: Black beans, kidney beans, lentils and other legumes are excellent sources of potassium, protein and fibre.
  • Salmon – 100 g of salmon contains 414 mg of potassium
  • Dried apricots – these are high in potassium, but are also a rich source of fibre, vitamin A and E. You can eat them as a snack instead of commercially available chocolate or crisps
  • Pumpkin – just 200g of pumpkin provides 12% of your daily recommended amount of potassium. You can eat it baked, as soup-cream or steamed.
  • Watermelon – Watermelon is not only a source of water, vitamins and fibre, but is also a rich source of potassium.

Other sources of potassium can be:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Dates
  • Tomatoes
  • Raisins
  • Shellfish
  • Red beet

How much potassium does the human body need?

Nowadays, experts say that an optimal amount of potassium to include in our diet is around 3500-4700 mg of potassium per day.

Can I replace potassium-rich foods with dietary supplements?

Contrary to popular opinion, dietary supplements are not always a good substitute for a varied diet. In many countries, dietary supplements are limited to 99 g of potassium, which is by no means enough for our bodies. Also, a high intake of potassium supplements could lead to tissue destruction in the gut as well as cardiac arrhythmia.

Foods rich in potassium – essential for our health

Potassium-rich foods can be a powerful new ally in the fight against high blood pressure. By including them regularly in your diet, you can help maintain cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure in a natural and tasty way.

In addition to incorporating potassium-rich foods into the diet, it is also important to mention the role of a healthy diet such as that described by the Mediterranean diet, which includes a variety of nutritious foods and is associated with an active lifestyle.

However, it is important to always consult a doctor or dietitian before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you already have health problems or are taking blood pressure medication.

Bibliography

What Does Potassium Do for Your Body? A Detailed Review

Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses

Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses

Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health?

A Prospective Study of Dietary Calcium and Other Nutrients and the Risk of Symptomatic Kidney Stones | NEJM

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