We have all heard how we should reduce our sodium intake, stop salting our foods and be wary of high sodium packaged and refined foods. Whilst this is true there is another side to the story……
Potassium is a type of Ionic Salt which is naturally found dissolved in sea water and as part of the mineral content of fruits and vegetables. It is thought to be key in balancing out levels of blood pressure and regulating them to a more standard level. New science even goes to show that pottasium can be equally as effective in treating hypertension (high blood pressure) as taking medication for the problem.
Diet and lifestyle plays an important role in managing blood pressure. High intakes of sodium and low intakes of potassium have unfavorable effects on blood pressure. Therefore, reducing the consumption of sodium and increasing the consumption of potassium are both good ways to improve blood pressure.
So this goes to show that eating your fruits and vegetables goes a lot further than simply lifting your intake of anti-oxidants and minerals. A solid intake of mineral rich foods will help to balance out your blood pressure, fortunately this does not only work for those with high levels by lowering the readings but also those of us with good levels of blood pressure in which potassium works to maintain.
They key to making this work seems to be by displacing refined salt with potassium in your diet. If you cook at home or eat home cooked meals the majority of the time this should not be a problem.
Most household salt is to be found in processed foods such as bread, ready-made meals, soups, sauces and savoury snacks and pizzas.
Here are some of the tips you can use to get more potassium and less sodium in your diet:
- Find a good sea salt and use it with all your cooking. I like Redmond Sea Salt. It is important your sea salt has a reddish/pinkish colour as this means minerals are retained.
- Get rid of any refined/table salt that you have in the house. The stuff not only tastes worse than real salt but does harm to your health.
- Try and minimise prepackaged foods with high sodium levels (above 1g per serving)
- Eat a good selection of high Potassium foods……
Some of the foods richest in Pottasium are beans and pulses as well as fruits and vegetables: Spinach, Lima Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils, Tropical Fruits (bananas, papaya, pineapple) and Avocados to name a few. Please see this link for more details…..
This shows why it is possible to eat a perfectly “healthy” diet but be plagued by problems of low potassium and high sodium levels, this can simply come from eating too many prepackaged or restaurant foods. These foods push sodium intake to a level that is very hard to displace by adding potassium to your diet. The problem is that refined salt is an easy way for food makers to add flavour to their food.
We need salt to live and it is hugely important. Unfortunately modern day refined salt (sodium chloride) is used everywhere now, it has all of the minerals removed including potassium which is its built in defence mechanism.
The key comes back to eating unrefined home cooked real foods with good ingredients when possible. Don’t be shy when using sea salt to season your food as it is full of minerals and is essential for adrenal health, just make sure you include some potassium rich foods in your diet especially if you eat out on a regular basis.
5 comments so far
Comment by Grok
16 September 2010
Great stuff. Thought I’d note for athletes… Since starting a fruit based diet going on 3 moths ago, I haven’t had a single leg cramp. I used to get them all the time during longer workouts and during the night.
I completely ditched salt of any kind. I also eat my fair share of bananas. 45 a day is not uncommon. Pre-dinner salads are based with about 250g of spinach, which is by far my favorite green! This has been serving me well so far. Even for 6-9hr workouts.
Wish I could get papaya around here cheaper
@ Grok: Good stuff, glad to hear the cramping is gone. I always recommend upping the potassium rich foods and popping some magnesium citrate when cramping kicks in. 45 Bananas a day, wowzers!