Potassium for Blood Pressure

Potassium helps keep blood pressure down and aids muscle contractions, aids healthy electrical activity in the heart and rapid transmission of nerve impulses throughout the body. With the exception of calcium and phosphorus, no other mineral is as abundant in the human body as potassium.

Most people don’t need to take supplements of this mineral because it’s so widely available in foods such as bananas, orange juice, and potatoes. Potatoes, avocados, steamed clams, lima beans and apricots also contain potassium.

Studies now show that people who eat a diet high in potassium rich foods have a much lower risk of high blood pressure. Since high blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke, one can also say potassium helps prevent these diseases.

Potassium is important because it seems to calm the spiing effect that salt has on blood pressure. The landmark Intersalt study looked at more than 10,000 people from 32 countries. They found that people with the highest amounts of potassium in their blood had the lowest blood pressure.

Potassium aids in converting blood sugar (glucose, the body’s foremost fuel), into glycogen. Glycogen is a form of energy that can be stored in the muscles and liver and released as needed.

Most adults easily get an adequate and safe amount of potassium from foods every day. A safe amount is said to be about 5.6g. There is no RDA for potassium.

Herbs and spices that contain potassium are black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, chili, cloves, ginger, gurmeric, sage, thyme, cumin, coriander, dill, allspice, fennel, fenugreek, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, peppermint, curry, garlic, paprika, nutmeg, savory, chives, caraway seed, tarragon, anise, saffron, parsley and chervil. (Source: Nutrition Data)

By law, over-the-counter supplements cannot contain more than 99mg of potassium per pill, a ruling that applies to multivitamin and mineral preparations as well. Higher doses of potassium are available only by prescription and are necessary only in very special situations, such as the use of diuretics that promote potassium loss.

Warnings:  If you take a medication to control high blood pressure or heart disease, or if you have a kidney disorder, never take potassium supplements without medical supervision. Consuming potassium-rich foods is considered fine, however.

Low Potassium Diet

Potassium is found in many foods. Dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans, and many fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of potassium. You need potassium for muscle function, but for some people, too much can be very dangerous. People with certain kidney diseases need a low potassium diet.

Benefits of a Low Potassium Diet:

  • Helps to lower the amount of potassium in your blood
  • Helps to maintain normal muscle and heart function

Guidelines of a Low Potassium Diet:

  • Be sure to cook frozen fruits and vegetables in water; rinse and drain well before serving.
  • Liquid should be drained from all canned fruits and vegetables and rinsed before serving.
  • Potatoes may be peeled, sliced thin, and soaked in water for at least 4 hours or overnight before rinsing and cooking. Leafy green vegetables (collards, kale and spinach) should also be soaked for at least 4 hours and rinsed well before cooking. This helps to significantly lower the amount of potassium in these foods.
  • Check labels for words that include potassium, such as potassium chloride, to avoid potassium hidden in foods.
  • Avoid salt substitutes; many of them contain potassium. Salt-free herb blends and spices are acceptable.
  • Limit foods that are high in potassium.

High Potassium Foods

Fruits Fruits:

  • Apricots, canned and fresh
  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dried fruits – apricots, dates, figs, prunes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Orange Juice
  • Pear, fresh
  • Prune Juice

Vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Beets
  • Beet Greens
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage, Chinese
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Okra
  • Pepper, Chili
  • Potatoes, white and sweet
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach, cooked
  • Squash, winter
  • Tomato
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato juice
  • Vegetable juice cocktail

Legumes

  • Black-eyed Peas
  • Chick Peas
  • Lentils
  • Lima Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Split Peas

Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts

Breads and Cereals

  • Bran
  • Whole Grain

Miscellaneous

  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa
  • Coconut
  • Milk and Milk Products
  • Molasses
  • Substitute Salt

Read More: Essential Nutrients