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An apple a day may keep the doctor away but a banana a day keeps muscle cramps at bay. Why is that? It’s because bananas are rich in potassium, one of the essential minerals our bodies need to function efficiently. Read on as we explore the health perks of potassium.
What Does Potassium Do?
Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte. It’s an important part of our health, as potassium helps our body perform a variety of functions. Potassium regulates fluid, helping to reduce water retention and also breaking down kidney stones. It assists with regulating our muscles and heart contractions; that’s why bananas are so good at treating muscle cramps.
Potassium may also reduce blood pressure, which also reduces the risk of stroke. It can also help prevent osteoporosis by reducing how much calcium the body loses through urine.
What To Eat
Potassium can be found in a wide array of foods. If you eat a diet with a lot of vegetables and fruits, you’re well on your way to having a healthy intake of potassium. Foods rich in potassium include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruit juice (orange, tomato, prune, apricot, and grapefruit)
- Cooked spinach
- Cooked broccoli
- Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, and dates)
- Honeydew melon
- Leafy greens
- Milk Yogurt
- Beans (lima, pinto, soy, lentils, kidney beans)
- Fish (tuna, halibut, cod, trout, rockfish)
- Bran cereal
The recommended amount of potassium your average adult should consume every day is 4,700 milligrams. It’s not uncommon for many Americans to experience some form of potassium deficiency. When you have low levels of potassium in your blood, it's called Hypokalemia.
Symptoms that you may be potassium deficient include:
- Muscle cramps
- Digestive problems
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Labored breathing
- Frequent urination
- High blood pressure
Oftentimes potassium deficiency results from other health issues. If you have a concern, consult your doctor.
Don’t Get Whipped By Licorice
Do you love black licorice? Be aware that you can have too much of a good thing. Black licorice (and some red varieties!) contain glycyrrhizic acid. This acid is what gives licorice its sweetness. Glycyrrhizic acid is up to 50 times sweeter than table sugar. When your body consumes licorice it converts the glycyrrhizic acid into glycyrrhetinic acid, which is safe in small amounts. But if you consume too much of that acid it will inhibit enzymes in your body that convert cortisol in to cortisone. The excess of cortisol in your body leads to a host of potential health problems, which include a serious potassium deficiency.