Some people claim that bananas aren’t good for you because they have too much sugar. However, if you asked most people, they would tell you a banana is healthy for you -- and those folks would be correct. Bananas are a great source of potassium. But why is potassium so important? Potassium plays a major role in our bodies -- especially heart function. Along with calcium, magnesium, sodium and chloride, potassium is a mineral and electrolyte found in our bodies. It plays a large role in muscle contraction and fluid balance and is important for maintaining normal blood pressure. In fact, making sure we have adequate potassium is equally important for our blood pressure as keeping our sodium levels down. Potassium has also been linked to reducing the risk of recurrent kidney stones and osteoporosis as we age.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, potassium is an under consumed nutrient. Adults 19 and over are encouraged to consume 4,700 milligrams (4.7 grams) of potassium daily, which is more than an average person typically has in a day. So where can you get potassium besides bananas? Sources of potassium come from a wide range of foods, so it is important to eat a variety from each food group. This ensures you are not only getting adequate potassium, but adequate amounts of every important nutrient as well.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides easy examples of how to increase potassium intake with the foods listed below:
- 1 medium baked potato with skin: 930 milligrams
- 1 cup cooked spinach: 840 milligrams
- 1 cup cooked broccoli: 460 milligrams
- 1 cup cubed cantaloupe: 430 milligrams
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes: 430 milligrams
- 1 medium banana: 420 milligrams
- 1 cup chopped carrots: 410 milligrams
- 1 cup low-fat milk: 350 to 380 milligrams
- 1 cup cooked quinoa: 320 milligrams
Always consult a doctor or registered dietitian before making changes to your diet or adding supplementation.
Written by: Rachael Sharpe, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
2. University of Maryland Medical Center
3. USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov