Less than 2% of Americans even get the recommended minimum adequate intake of 4,700 mg of potassium a day. A simple internet search reveals MANY studies which clearly indicate the importance of getting enough potassium in one’s diet.
Why is that important? Because potassium is a highly integral part of one’s well being. Clinical trials and case studies reveal a much higher incidence of stroke and heart disease for those with low levels of potassium compared with what is considered more “normal”.
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology recently reported (Abnormalities of Potassium in Heart Failure), along with other papers on the subject.
A review of all the best studies ever done on potassium intake and its relationship to two of our top killers, stroke and heart disease, was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.~ nutritionfacts.org
A 1,600mg per day higher potassium intake was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke. That still wouldn’t get the average American up to the minimum adequate intake, but it might be able to wipe out a fifth of their stroke risk.
The paper concludes: “These results support recommendations for higher consumption of potassium-rich foods to prevent vascular diseases.”
Potassium is a mineral. It’s an element. It works as an electrolyte in your body.
Approximately 98% of potassium in your body is inside your cells. Only a very small portion of it is out in the bloodstream at any given time. Your body tightly controls how much is in your bloodstream. Because too much or too little can cause problems. Your body is very good at controlling this.
If you have normal kidney function, you almost can’t eat too much potassium because your body just regulates it. It will put as much as it needs to inside your cells for storage, and you will just urinate the rest away.
The way you’ll know if you don’t have enough potassium is you’ll have muscle cramps. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night and do the “muscle cramp dance”… It’s no fun, and it’s painful. It’s your body saying “Hey Dummy, feed me more potassium”.
Potassium is vital for your nerves to conduct efficiently. Your muscle function is also the same way. Your heart is a muscle (don’t forget that!). The ability for your heart to pump and push out blood hinges upon your potassium content.
There’s research that suggests potassium helps lower blood pressure. It probably helps prevent Osteoporosis (weak brittle bones). Helps prevent heart attack and stroke. And probably helps prevent dementia as well.
The standard American diet and the “modern” diet in most countries is very low in potassium.
Why am I interested in this subject?
It is an essential mineral needed in your body. Your body is unable to make it, so it must come from your daily diet.
Well, I’m on a bit of a health kick lately. During these times it is important to optimize one’s health and immune system as best we can. While in the process of research and discovery, I came across the importance of potassium (and the fact that most Americans are seriously deficient!).
As some of you know, I’m eating Ketogenic / Carnivore. A very low carb diet. It has been outstanding, and I feel great as a result. This way of eating results in less veg in general (some of which are completely removed from diet because of their very high carb/starch content). Though there are plenty of veggies that are adequately low in net carb content while being careful to stay below 20 grams a day.
I became aware of the importance of potassium because the Keto way of eating cuts out some of the foods (veg) which are high in potassium (e.g. bananas, potatoes, and others). But the Ketogenic diet also emphasizes the high importance of hydration / water and proper electrolytes. Potassium is a VERY important part of electrolytes – but is surprisingly absent from many of the popular electrolyte mixes out there!
So I decided to focus on what potassium-rich foods that I can eat while attempting to get somewhere close to 4500 mg of potassium each day.
The Average Adult Needs From 3500 – 4700 mg of Potassium Each Day
Your body needs this potassium for 1000’s of functions, including muscle and brain function. Without enough potassium in your diet you will suffer.~ Dr. Ken Berry
For most people, leg muscle cramps are the first indication of low potassium. Most people who start keto already have very low potassium levels from their previous SAD Diet. There are many keto foods rich in potassium which you can use to replenish your potassium stores.
Which Ketogenic Foods Are Highest In Potassium
The avocado has a ton of potassium in it. An avocado has more than a banana and way less carbohydrates. I eat one whole avocado a day. Depending on its size the avocado may have up to 700 mg of potassium!
Any leafy green is going to have plenty of potassium. Just be conscious of the carbs per serving that you’re consuming (if you’re on Keto), though most leafy greens are pretty low in carbs. I just pulled out a small 8 ounce can of Leaf Spinach, and the label indicates 960 grams of potassium in the can!
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Asparagus
Lots of potassium and they’re relatively low carb. Generally up to 300 mg per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
Several Different Fish Have a Goodly Amount of Potassium
Cod, Halibut, and Tuna. And they’re very low carbohydrates. All three types of fish have up to 500 mg potassium per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
Brazil Nuts and Hazel Nuts
Be careful with the carb content. Some nuts have much higher carbs than others. With that said, three Brazil nuts have about 100 mg of potassium. Just one Brazil nut also contains up to 90 mcg of selenium (more than the daily requirement). One ounce of Hazel nuts (about 20 whole kernels) has about 190 mg of potassium.
Any red meat, especially the liver is going to have plenty of potassium. 3 ounces of beef has about 250 mg of potassium. So that 12 ounce delicious steak has about 1000 mg!
Clams are a very rich source of potassium
Just 3 ounces of clams have about 500 mg. Lots of good selenium too.
Dr. Ken Berry on Potassium: