While a debate rages over the proper amount of sodium one should take – one side says Americans should cut back on their sodium levels because too much might cause high blood pressure and the other side says the recommended amount is too low and may lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease. But there is one thing that we do know and can agrees on: potassium is good for you.
Potassium, in fact, may be more important for you than sodium because it protects your heart against any damage caused by too much sodium. We know that not only does adequate potassium lower blood pressure, but it may revitalize arteries, which is important as one ages and the arteries become less elastic. It also works side-by-side with sodium to keep your body fluids in balance.
The balance between potassium and sodium can also be a problem. This is because many Americans tend to eat too many processed foods, full of sodium, and too few fruits and vegetables, full of potassium. Most Americans eat between 2,000 and 3,000 milligrams of potassium daily, which is far short of the U.S. department of Agriculture recommended 4,700 milligrams per day for healthy people.
Foods that are high in potassium and naturally low in sodium include baked potatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms, orange juice, bananas and raisins. Dietary approaches to reduce hypertension recommend eating as many as 8 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
Potassium-rich fruits and vegetables may not only reduce your risk for high blood pressure, but can help muscles work properly and prevent cramping, regulate your heartbeat, protect you against osteoporosis, and lower your risk for kidney stones. Studies have also shown that it may lower the likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes and some cancers. What’s more, it adds antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber to your diet.