Potassium Benefits for Your Health – How to Get More?
Potassium is a mineral that is very important for heart health; while it may not control or treat heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other circulatory problems, potassium benefits your heart itself as well as your cardiovascular system overall. To enjoy these benefits, you can add foods high in potassium to your everyday diet, but you may also want to take a supplement in some cases. This will ensure you’re getting enough of this vital mineral, no matter your diet.
Note 3 very important potassium benefits for your heath, and then we’ll also share a list of some foods with this mineral and how to choose the best supplement if needed. We’ll also note how to tell if you have a deficiency or may even be getting too much of this mineral in your diet.
1. Regulated heartbeat
Potassium actually helps your heart to beat regularly because of how it helps regulate electrical signals in the muscle of the heart. It doesn’t force the heart to beat like some heart medicines, but the electrical signals that force the heart to expand and contract, creating your heart beat, rely on potassium to function.
If you have low potassium levels in your diet or in your system, your heart’s electrical signals and the rhythm or timing of the heartbeat will be irregular. High or healthy potassium levels will mean a regulated, strong, healthy heartbeat.
2. Potassium benefits your blood pressure
While this mineral also doesn’t necessarily lower your blood pressure, having a potassium deficiency can affect your heartbeat so that you actually have low blood pressure; if the heart isn’t beating as it should, it’s not pushing blood through your system properly. Low pressure can often be as dangerous as high blood pressure, as low blood pressure can mean not getting enough oxygen-rich blood to your body’s cells. In turn, those cells can get damaged or die off.
You can also get dizzy spells and suffer a fainting disorder because of low blood pressure due to low potassium levels. This dizziness and fainting is due to lack of oxygen in the brain; not only is fainting dangerous, but starving your brain of this needed oxygen can also damage those cells, leading to difficulty concentrating and impaired problem solving abilities.
3. Lower cholesterol
As with other potassium benefits, this mineral itself may not automatically lower cholesterol, but the foods you eat to get more potassium in your diet can help to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Fatty foods and those rich in animal fats and other sources of cholesterol are not very rich in this mineral, so switching to high potassium foods can mean lowering cholesterol levels while keeping your circulation strong and healthy. Better circulation can also mean lowering your cholesterol levels, as that healthy fresh blood helps to break down and flush out cholesterol in the bloodstream.
4. High potassium foods
Fruits and vegetables are your best sources of potassium; bananas may have the highest concentration of this vital mineral of any food, but tomatoes, potatoes, and spinach are also some of the most potassium rich foods. Avocadoes, strawberries, and orangesare also included in this list, together with orange juice. Spinach, beans, and peas contain this mineral as well, so adding these to your diet can be a very heart-healthy choice.
If these are not your favorite choices and you struggle to add these healthy foods to your diet, try a fruit salad for dessert, with orange wedges and sliced strawberries and bananas, and a touch of whipped cream. Add more spinach and tomatoes to sandwiches and salads. Make homemade guacamole as a side dish to add healthy avocadoes to your nightly dinner or lunch.
5. Risks for unhealthy potassium levels
Before you decide that you need to eat more potassium rich foods, note that medications like ACE inhibitors can actually increase potassium levels in the diet. Also, since this mineral is filtered through the kidneys, you want to discuss its healthy levels with your doctor if you have kidney failure or are being treated for kidney disease. Diuretics and heart diseases can make you lose it through your urine, so you may need more than a daily recommended dosage if you are taking any medications related to water retention or are being treated for heart failure, high blood pressure, and similar conditions.
Even if you are healthy overall, it’s always good to check with your doctor about all vitamin and mineral levels in your system. You may already be getting enough potassium through your everyday diet and may not need to make changes, or you may be so deficient in this mineral that you need a supplement to fill in some gaps in what you eat every day.
6. How to choose a good supplement
As with any supplement, you want to consider your own potassium levels and how much of this mineral you’ll need from a supplement; you don’t want one that has too low of a concentration so that you need to take several pills in any day. If you plan on adjusting your diet to include more foods with potassium, you also don’t want a supplement with too high of a concentration so that you get too much of this mineral in your system.
You also want a high-quality supplement that will be more of the mineral than empty filler; read the ingredients to see how much of the active ingredient is in the supplement. This refers to the mineral itself, versus fillers like sweeteners and preservatives.
7. Check levels regularly
While there are many benefits you might enjoy by adding potassium rich foods to your diet and even taking a supplement, you want to have these levels checked regularly, and especially as you get older. You may need high levels of this mineral to support failing heart health, but may also need to cut back on your potassium intake if your kidneys begin to struggle to filter this mineral out of your system.