• Are bananas really the best source of potassium?

    When I say potassium, you say…

    If you said bananas, you are in good company.

    Now, let’s try this again.

    I say potassium, you say any food source besides bananas.

    Crickets? I don’t think crickets have potassium. But many people can’t really name something other than bananas as a food source of potassium.

    Here is a shocker to many people too: bananas are not the best source of potassium.

    What is? So glad you asked.

    Here we go:

    Serving Size Mg Potassium Calories Mg Potassium per Calorie
    Potato, whitebaked, small 759 mg 134 calories 5.66
    Avocado half of a medium 487 mg 161 calories 3.02
    Banana medium 422 mg 105 calories 4.02
    Milk 0% 1 cup 410 mg 90 calories 4.56
    Milk 2% 1 cup 366 mg 122 calories 3.00
    Medjool dates 2 each 334 mg 133 calories 2.51
    Yogurt, Greek 8 ounces/1 cup 287 mg 181 calories 1.59
    Orange medium 237 mg 62 calories 3.82
    Kiwi medium 215 mg 42 calories 5.12
    Half a medium avocado has 487 mg of potassium.

    Based on straight numbers, with just this sample of food, the banana comes in third after a small baked potato and half an avocado.

    But when comparing the density of potassium to the calorie content – or more bang for your buck.

    Serving Size Mg Potassium Calories Mg Potassium per Calorie
    Potato, white baked, small 759 mg 134 calories 5.66
    Kiwi medium 215 mg 42 calories 5.12
    Milk 0% 1 cup 410 mg 90 calories 4.56
    Banana medium 422 mg 105 calories 4.02
    Orange medium 237 mg 62 calories 3.82
    Avocado half of a medium 487 mg 161 calories 3.02
    Milk 2% 1 cup 366 mg 122 calories 3.00
    Medjool dates 2 each 334 mg 133 calories 2.51
    Yogurt, Greek 8 ounces/1 cup 287 mg 181 calories 1.59
    Kiwi beat out bananas for potassium density.

    Bananas still come in fourth place after potatoes, kiwi and skim milk. The orange isn’t too far behind in fifth place.

    Keep in mind that all of these foods are much more than their potassium cred. The plant foods have fiber, naturally occurring sugar, starch, vitamins and other minerals. The avocado and milk products have fat (unless the milk is fat-free/skim). Foods are so much more than their individual parts, of course.

    And, there are so many other foods, mostly fruits and vegetables, with potassium that aren’t on this abbreviated list.

    If you don’t like or eat some of these foods, there are other naturally occurring sources of potassium. Just get your fruits and veggies and you are well on your way to meeting your adult recommendation for potassium of 4,700 mg/day.

    What is potassium and why do we need it?

    Potassium is an essential macro mineral. Humans must consume it through food (making it essential) and in quantities >100 mg/daily (making it a macro mineral)

    While potassium has many roles in the body, as do most nutrients, the one that people tend to think of the most is its role as an electrolyte.

    When we sweat, we lose electrolytes most notably sodium and potassium. Many electrolyte beverages or supplements have both sodium and potassium because of this. More sodium than potassium, because we sweat or lose more sodium than potassium.

    An electrolyte is a nutrient that helps with the conduction of “electricity” in the body helping muscles relax and contract properly. I assure you it is much more complex than this, but this is the gist of the system.

    The other major role in the body that potassium has is helping with fluid balance. This is most often related to blood pressure in healthy people. People with certain kidney issues may have to moderate their potassium intake as directed by a medical professional for their specific situation.

    Healthy blood pressure is looking at the balance of sodium and potassium in the diet along with other lifestyle factors.

    When it comes to healthy blood pressure, a lot of people think of sodium. But sodium is only part of the picture. Sodium and potassium work in conjunction, but opposition, to help with keeping the fluid balance in our cells. There is fluid inside the cells (intracellular) and fluid outside the cells (extracellular). Sodium and potassium balance each other to help keep the fluid balanced both inside and outside the cells. When there is too much sodium combined with not enough potassium, the fluid is out of balance and can lead to health issues in the long run.

    So, while many people go on about sodium, which is abundant in processed foods, I always have to remind people that it is the combination of too much sodium and not enough potassium, which is low in processed foods.

    Table salt is sodium chloride (chloride being another essential macro mineral), but certain salt substitutes are potassium chloride.

    How do I know if I am getting enough?

    Most American’s just don’t get enough potassium. This is primarily because if you look at the good sources of potassium, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, people just aren’t getting the amounts they really could use. Add that highly processed diet that many American’s eat, there is more sodium and not as much potassium.

    Right now, with the “current” Nutrition Facts panel, listing potassium is optional. The “new” Nutrition Facts panel coming soon is required to have potassium amount and percent daily value listed.  The “new” Nutrition Facts panel is required as of January 1, 2020 (subject to change) for companies with over $10 million in annual food sales. Companies with <$10 million in food sales get an additional year, or January 1, 2021, for compliance. (The “smaller” companies will have an additional year even if the date changes.) As this transition happens, you may see both “current” and “new” Nutrition Facts panels in the market.

    For more about the “new” Nutrition Facts panel coming to your foods go here: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label

    Supplementing:

    Supplements aren’t always the way to go. Check with your health care provider first..

    While people tend to think supplements are a way to get nutrients, and they are, this is not one that should be taken without checking with a health care professional. Don’t self-prescribe. This could lead to dangerous health issues.

    People tend to think of supplements as “natural”, but the body wasn’t really made to take in single nutrient, high-doses that supplements tend to come as. Just because we can buy it over the counter, doesn’t mean it is safe for you to do so.

    (Note: vitamin K and the mineral potassium are sometimes mistaken for each other. There are major differences, one of which is that vitamin K is indeed a vitamin and potassium is a mineral. The confusion tends to happen when considering that the chemical symbol for potassium is K which is from the Latin kalium.)

    Nutrient information collected from CalorieKing.com.

    #tiptuesday #tuesdaytrivia #potassium #nutritionmyths #nutritionfacts