When it comes to healthy blood pressure, you need to balance your intake of sodium and potassium. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the pressure of blood flow pushes against the veins. High blood pressure can contribute to other major heart events and even stroke. High blood pressure can be symptomless, and if not monitored, it will only reveal itself through a major heart event. This is why it’s important to monitor your blood pressure and take preventative measures to keep it in a normal range.
One way a person can control their blood pressure is through potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that our bodies require. Research suggests that by taking potassium, you can better manage your blood pressure.
Recommended potassium intake
Potassium is naturally found in the body as well as in many of the foods we eat. Therefore, getting an ample supply of it is quite easy. Potassium is used in the body in many ways, but one function, in particular, is to support heart health.
Because the typical American diet is high in sodium, it can lead to potassium deficiencies. High sodium has been linked to high blood pressure as well. Therefore, to combat the effects of sodium, it’s essential to get adequate amounts of potassium.
The current recommendation for potassium is 4,700 mg a day for those over the age of 14.
As mentioned, potassium can be found in many health foods including leafy greens, fruits, grain products, dairy, and meat.
Potassium-sodium balance effect on blood pressure levels
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests eating foods that contain potassium is a good way to boost potassium levels and better manage blood pressure. Potassium can flush out excess salt from our diet. Salt has been linked to increased blood pressure. Potassium works to weed out salt through a process that occurs in the kidneys.
The kidneys control fluid within the body. Excess fluid gets pulled into the bladder where urine is formed. Both sodium and potassium are used during this process to bring the fluid into the bladder. A diet high in sodium disrupts the balance between salt and potassium, making this pulling of fluid much more difficult. By increasing potassium intake, balance can be restored again, leading to healthier kidneys and improved blood pressure.
Potassium rich foods to lower blood pressure
Banana: Usually the first fruit you think of when seeking a potassium boost, this tasty treat offers about 15 percent of your daily recommended intake. It can be added to pretty much anything, like your morning cereal, smoothies, or other foods that benefit from a kick of sweetness.
Yogurt: A great morning, mid-day, and even evening snack. It can be found in a variety of flavors and is especially great when fresh fruit is added. A 100g serving offers more than 250mg of potassium.
Apricots: Packed with vitamins A and C, it is also a great source of potassium. A 100g serving of apricots gives you about seven percent of your daily recommended intake of potassium. It also has a low glycemic index for those who are glucose conscious.
Acorn squash: Boasting 400mg of potassium with every 100g serving, acorn squash can be baked with brown sugar and cinnamon and eaten as a tasty side dish, complementing any meal.
Avocado: This versatile fruit is packed with goodness. It provides and an abundant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, maintains electrolyte balance, and offers close to 1000mg of potassium per serving.
Potato: A nutritious root vegetable, the potato is also rich with potassium, offering approximately 30% of the daily recommended intake for every cup (173g) of the stuff. Potatoes are great baked, grilled, and boiled, but it’s best to avoid the fried variants.
Fresh salmon: Considered one of the healthiest foods you can possibly incorporate into your diet, salmon is a great source of omega-3’s and packs over 500mg of potassium in a single ounce.
Almonds: Unsalted almonds are a great snack, as they are tasty, portable, and high in fiber. A serving of 28g of almonds contains about 200mg of potassium and is also low on the glycemic index. It is best to limit the amount eaten as they are high in calories.
Six additional health benefits of potassium
Not only is potassium helpful to aid with blood pressure, but it can offer other health benefits as well.
Stroke prevention: It works to boost oxygen to the brain, preventing stroke.
Blood sugar: Can work to maintain healthy blood sugar. A drop in potassium can lead to a drop in blood sugar resulting in symptoms like a headache, sweating and even fainting.
Muscles: Potassium aids in the function of our muscles. Additionally, it can prevent muscle cramping. Potassium also plays a role in muscles strength.
Bones: Helps to preserve calcium in the bones leading to stronger, healthier bones.
Metabolism: Potassium helps metabolize nutrients leading to more energy.
Anxiety: Potassium can help reduce symptoms associated with stress and anxiety and can help stabilize mood. Maybe the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, opt for a banana!
As you can see, potassium can greatly improve bodily functions and can offer many health benefits. Ensuring that you’re getting the recommended amount is essential to overall good health. But take note: too much potassium isn’t good. To avoid over-consuming potassium see a doctor to check your levels.
Related: What causes high blood pressure?