POTATOES

The potassium power of potatoes

POTATOES – The potassium power of potatoes

There are many essential vitamins and minerals that are found in different foods. They work together to perform several key bodily functions. Here, we place the spotlight on potassium to understand why it’s so important to eat foods rich in this powerhouse, health-enhancing mineral.

Potassium 101

Some of the most basic work your body does depends on potassium. This includes, but is not limited to, controlling the movement of fluids into and out of the cells which maintains your fluid balance; regulating blood pressure; transmitting nerve impulses; and helping your muscles, including your heart muscle, to relax. Because of potassium’s role in these functions, this mineral has the potential to lower the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, kidney disease and low bone density.

Go bananas with Super Spuds

Move over bananas, potatoes are the exceptional source of potassium you may not even have known about! One medium baked potato (180 g), with skin, provides 825 mg of potassium, almost 20% of your daily recommended potassium intake. That’s more potassium per serving than bananas, cauliflower, cucumber, tomatoes and green beans. Potatoes are the real potassium powerhouses!

Under pressure!

High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer” because very often it fails to show any symptoms and can go unnoticed unless you go for screening. Hypertension or having “high blood” (as is locally known) is diagnosed when you have a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other conditions. It is estimated by The Heart and Stroke Foundation, South Africa that in South Africa, more than 1 in 3 adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for 1 in every 2 strokes and 2 in every 5 heart attacks.

Halt the salt, push the potassium

We often hear that too much salt in our diet contributes to higher blood pressure, but we seldom hear about nutrients that help to lower blood pressure. We know that a diet high in salt can send your blood pressure soaring and that research shows that the majority of South Africans eat more than the recommended amount of salt per day (one teaspoon or 5 g). But did you know that a diet rich in potassium may decrease blood pressure? Potassium works against factors that contribute to high blood pressure by allowing the blood vessels to relax and that helps to lower the pressure build up in the blood vessel. That’s why sufficient intake of potassium from a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is proven to lower your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Sugar, we’re going down

Potassium intake also impacts your ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels. Not consuming enough potassium can cause low potassium levels in the blood, which may result in high blood sugar levels and may affect the release of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that keeps the blood sugar levels within the normal range by instructing cells of the body to absorb sugar. A six yearlong study that analysed the link between potassium intake and health found that if you don’t get enough potassium in your diet through fruit and vegetables, it can increase your risk of developing both type two diabetes and heart disease.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3

So, what should you be doing in the kitchen to get more potassium on your plate?

  1. Keep the skin of your potatoes on – it adds to the fibre and potassium content of the potato and reduces wastage.
  2. Roast and bake, rather than fry – these are healthier preparation methods. Boiling is also a good alternative to frying. However, some nutrients, including potassium, may dissolve in the water and get lost in the boiling process.
  3. Avoid adding salt, a diet high in salt can increase blood pressure. Use garlic and fresh or dried herbs such as rosemary, parsley, thyme or coriander to add flavour.

Size always matters

Enjoying potatoes with their skin on, in moderate portions (90-180g/medium-sized potato), without added salt and cooked in a healthy way, should be high on your heart-healthy, potassium-powered priority list.

Potatoes protect your heart. They contain more Potassium than Spinach, Bananas & Broccoli!

Potatoes protect your heart. They contain more Potassium than Spinach, Bananas      & Broccoli!

References:

  1. Close, C. M., Carrero, J. J., Ellison, D. H., Grams, M. E., Hemmelgarn, B. R., Jardine, M. J., Kovesdy, C. P., Kline, G. A., Lindner, G., Obrador, G. T., Palmer, B. F., Cheung, M., Wheeler, D. C., Winkelmayer, W. C., Pecoits-Filho, R., & Conference Participants (2020). Potassium homeostasis and management of dyskalemia in kidney diseases: conclusions from a Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Controversies Conference. Kidney International, 97(1), 42–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2019.09.018
  2. Filippini, T., Violi, F., D’Amico, R., & Vinceti, M. (2017). The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Cardiology, 230, 127–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.12.048
  3. Goyal, R., Nguyen, M., & Jialal, I. (2020). Glucose Intolerance. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  4. Ha, J., Kim, S. A., Lim, K., & Shin, S. (2020). The association of potassium intake with bone mineral density and the prevalence of osteoporosis among older Korean adults. Nutrition Research and Practice, 14(1), 55–61. https://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2020.14.1.55
  5. Jones, N. R., McCormack, T., Constanti, M., & McManus, R. J. (2020). Diagnosis and management of hypertension in adults: NICE guideline update 2019. The British journal of general practice: The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 70(691), 90–91. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp20X708053
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