Proper nutrition is vital for your body to function at its full potential. A lesser-known factor in proper nutrition is the role of potassium. Potassium maintains fluid balance and keeps your heart, brain, nerves, and muscles functioning properly. Adding potassium in the diet lowers blood pressure, reducing risk for stroke and heart disease. Potassium may also protect against bone loss and reduce risk of kidney disease. Experts suggest 4,700mg of dietary potassium a day for adults as part of a balanced diet.
There are many ways to increase your potassium intake without making a large sacrifice. One way is to substitute raw or steamed vegetables for boiled vegetables. Boiling depletes potassium. For example, a boiled potato has almost half the potassium of a baked potato. When eating out you can increase your potassium intake by ordering a salad, extra steamed or roasted vegetables, fruit, and low-fat milk instead of soda.
An athlete's potassium needs should be met with foods and drinks which provide potassium, as well as other sources of energy needed throughout the work-out such as carbohydrates, and sodium.
To ensure appropriate nutritional needs are met, it is important to read labels carefully. Above, we compare coconut water, the most recent grocery store craze, and Gatorade. Coconut water is low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free and contains more potassium than four bananas. Coconut water sounds like the better choice, but sports nutritionist Nancy Clark determined that coconut water is fine for recreational athletes-but so is plain water or sports drinks. Clark also determined that coconut water won't hydrate athletes unless they drink plenty of it. Drinking too much coconut water could be an issue because one 11-ounce container has 60 calories. If one drinks several in one day, the calories can add up quickly. Potassium is a key factor in maintaining proper body function. Remember to take the steps necessary to meet the recommended 4,700 mg of dietary potassium per day. Below are some options for foods that are a good source of potassium.
Good Sources of Potassium
· 1 cup of cooked spinach equals 840 mg
· A medium baked potato provides 800 mg
· 1 cup of fat-free yogurt 579 mg
· 1 cup of cooked broccoli equals 460 mg
· A medium-size banana contains 450 mg
· 1 cup of cantaloupe has 430 mg
· 1 cup of low-fat milk contains 366 mg
· A medium tomato has 290 mg
· ½ cup of strawberries contains 230 mg