Most people understand that one of the factors in blood pressure management is limiting salt intake. But it turns out that increasing your potassium level may yield similar results.
Potassium is an electrolyte that is critical to the proper functioning of nerve and muscles cells, particularly heart muscle cells.
Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles reviewed more than 70 studies related to dietary approaches for high blood pressure regulation.
They found that when dietary potassium intake is elevated, the kidneys — composed of millions of small tubes — shift fluid to the area near the end of the tubes where potassium secretes into the urine.
This shift reduces the amount of sodium and water that’s reabsorbed by the body. In this way, a high potassium diet signals the body to reduce the amount of sodium that is retained.
Potassium levels can be raised through diet or by taking potassium supplements. Here are some suggestions from registered dietitian Vicki Shanta Retelny for simple ways to add potassium-rich foods to your diet.
• Avocados. Spread a ripe slice of avocado on toast, chop it into salads, or mash it into guacamole.
• Potatoes. Both white and sweet potatoes are packed with potassium. Bake, mash, or roast them. You can also cook and chop them into salads, drop them into soups or dice them into vegetables hash.
• Spinach. All veggies can boost potassium, but spinach packs an extra big punch. Salads might also include tomatoes, cabbage, sprouts, or beans.
• Bananas. Great base for a smoothie, or dipped into chocolate and frozen for a sweet treat.
• Pomegranate. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds into fruit or green salads, plain yogurt, or cooked oatmeal. For an extra pop, add them to peanut butter toast or roll them into date nut balls for a healthy snack.
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