Potassium is an essential mineral that some people tend to lack. It is essential for the transmission of nerve impulses, as well as muscle contraction (particularly the heart) and good kidney function, and plays a role in fighting high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. These are important things to take note of in observance of World Stroke Day, Oct. 29.
Potassium is naturally present in pulses, such as white beans, chickpeas and lentils, vegetables (chard, spinach, potatoes, cabbage, mushrooms), fruit (avocado, banana, apricots, citrus fruit, blackcurrants), and dried fruit and nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dates, figs).
It is also found in meat and fish, especially oily fish (salmon, sardines and mackerel), as well as chocolate and wholegrain cereals.
Only fats such as butter, crème fraiche, oil and margarine don’t contain this mineral.
The top 10 most potassium-rich foods include lentils (810 milligrams per 100 grams), dried dates (790 milligrams), prunes (732 milligrams), almonds (705 milligrams), spinach (662 milligrams), avocado (650 milligrams), chestnuts (600 milligrams), mushrooms (520 milligrams), walnuts (450 milligrams) and apricots (440 milligrams).
Potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps, is particularly beneficial for athletes to help counterbalance the production of lactic acid when muscles work hard. Chia seeds, for example, contain more potassium (407 grams/100 grams) than bananas (360 grams/100 grams) and can be particularly beneficial for the recovery phase.
Recent studies show that low dietary potassium can lead to calcified arteries and aortic stiffness. JB