We spent the past week discussing the high-sodium diet’s detrimental effects and how potassium can reduce them. Now it’s time to drill down on where to find the best sources of potassium.
Throughout most of history, humans have eaten an estimated seven to 16 times more potassium than sodium.
But as processed meats, cheeses, bread, and snacks proliferated in our convenience stores, grocery shelves, and restaurant freezers, we flipped the natural order of things.
For the first time in history, the general populace began consuming more sodium than potassium.
This change’s consequences are still being uncovered, but it’s common knowledge that the modern Western diet is unhealthy. We must return to eating primarily whole-food, plant-based.
Harvard Health writes in this article on potassium:
“Our bodies need far more potassium than sodium each day, but… Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day… while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day.”
Present-Day Top Sources of Potassium
Where does the meager amount of potassium we are getting from our diet come from? Not from the fruits, vegetables, and legumes which are naturally loaded with it!
For those 50 and younger, the top source is milk. For those over 51, the top sources are coffee, tea, and other nonalcoholic beverages.
Granted, coffee comes from a fruit, and tea is made from ground up, water-steeped leaves. Consumed in their natural state, both fruit and greens are good sources of potassium.
But turning them into highly processed and heavily diluted beverages and relying on them to supply potassium is pathetic! Grab one medium banana, and you’ll be holding four times the potassium in a cup of coffee or ten times that in a cup of tea!
Wondering how milk ranked as one of the top sources of potassium?
Consider where a lactating cow gets her potassium: from grass, grain, and (if she’s a commercial dairy cow) from a supplement. Progressive Dairy explains:
“Large amounts of potassium are lost through milk production, so cows need supplemental potassium just to meet daily maintenance requirements.”
This may be why cow’s milk contains 366 mg of potassium per cup. And why, for most Americans under 50, the top sources of potassium are cattle feed and cow supplements.
Nature intended cows’ milk for their calves. But if we hadn’t co-opted it for ourselves, where else could we obtain our potassium?
3 Best Sources of Potassium
From where nature intended: fruits, vegetables, and beans! Three of the richest sources of potassium fit easily in the palm of your hand.
The top three dried-fruit potassium amounts per handful (or one-half-cup in standard measurement):
- Apricots: 1,101 mg.
- Prunes: 699 mg.
- Raisins: 618 mg.
A handful of dried apricots has:
- 3 times the amount of potassium as milk
- 9 times the amount of coffee
- 25 times the amount of tea
Apricots are also rich sources of polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamins. They’ve specifically been found useful in battling:
- Stomach inflammation
- Liver disease
- Tumor formation
- Heart disease
Replacing milk or one of our daily coffee cups with a handful of apricots is an excellent idea. But the best approach to increasing our intake goes way beyond checking off nutrient boxes with potassium-rich foods.
We must switch our entire diet away from the high-Sodium American Diet (SAD) and toward the potassium-loaded whole-food, plant-based diet.
The key (as I mentioned in yesterday’s post) is well worth repeating. From Harvard Health:
- “eat more fresh vegetables and fruits…”
- “eat less bread, cheese, processed meat, and other processed foods…”
Skip the cow’s milk as well. Grab a banana, eat a salad, fill your plate with beans, and enjoy some dried fruit.
Your body will absolutely love you for it.