Potassium rich foods: the secret to high energy food

Potassium rich foods: the secret to high energy food

Posted 7/3/2012 in Articles by Dan

There are many products on the market touting how they will give either the most or the longest-lasting energy, but in reality a long-lasting energy source isn’t found in a can or a bottle. Rather, your produce section is the best place to find your personal fuel.

Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte that is imperative to regulate the body’s PH levels and help with many other bodily functions including regulating blood flow and helps proper cellular function. Nerve cells and nerve transmission rely on potassium, as do other cells such as brain cells or muscle cells. Potassium is also important for healthy heart growth, skeletal growth, and muscle building. Potassium also plays a role in reducing sodium levels and preventing high blood pressure. Potassium is even used to regulate the digestive system, lower cholesterol, and even constitutes a major part of healthy diets for weight loss or weight regulation. Potassium also regulates ATP, which is the energy source for our bodies’ chemical reactions.

Clearly, potassium is a vital mineral and it is important to have the right amount in your body to maintain the proper balance. For adults, the recommended daily allowance of potassium is 3500 mg, while the Linus Pauling institute recommends 4700 mg a day.

When potassium levels are too low, a condition called hypokalemia occurs, resulting in muscle fatigue, cramps, an irregular heartbeat, or other symptoms. Low potassium can be life threatening to the heart. In milder cases, low potassium can result in leg cramps, such as cramps that wake people during the night as they sleep.

There are many foods that are high in potassium. Fruit and vegetables including bananas, artichokes, avocados, oranges, spinach, and tomatoes are high in potassium. Fruit juices also are good energy sources, with both potassium and sugar. Kiwis pack a lot of potassium into a small container: one kiwi has 252 mg of potassium. Legumes, including black, pinto, and lima beans, can provide 900 mg per cooked cupful. They are high energy foods that can even have a lot of fiber and antioxidants.

Milk and yogurt are not only good sources of calcium, but also of potassium, ranging from 400-500 mg per cup. Seafood and shellfish such as oysters and clams, or salmon and certain other fish, are also high in potassium.

Sweet potatoes have been found by the US Department of Agriculture to be the most potassium rich food. One medium sweet potato has 649 mg of potassium. A baked potato is almost as good, with 610 mg of potassium.

Potassium tends to be found in fresh and natural foods, as well as lean meats and wild game. These foods are part of maintaining a healthy diet and will provide not only potassium but also a plethora of other necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Many energy drinks and sports products are devoid of potassium, and are made up of almost pure carbohydrates. For example, Gatorade only has 25 mg of potassium in an 8-oz. serving.

It is hard to have too much potassium (a condition known as hyperkalemia). However, to avoid complications, it is best to get your potassium from eating natural foods rather than potassium supplements, which may produce side effects like vomiting or diarrhea.

Potassium can be found in a wide variety of foods that give you energy, as shown in the list above; incorporating potassium into your diet should not be too difficult to do. With a wide array of possible potassium rich foods out there, substituting high potassium foods for low potassium foods will give you long term health benefits and increased energy in the long run.  

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