High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension or the “silent killer,” affects 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. It’s a major risk factor for heart disease and other life-threatening health conditions. But there are changes we can make to help reduce our blood pressure. One is eating a healthy diet that includes foods packed with potassium.
According to the American Heart Association, foods rich in potassium can help lower blood pressure by reducing the negative effects of salt and relaxing the walls of blood vessels.
The average adult needs 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day, but most Americans consume barely half that. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of this mineral. Not big on plant foods? Potassium is also found in dairy products, fish, meat and whole grains.
Here are five foods to help you get more potassium. A serving of each provides up to 20 percent of the daily recommendation.
- Bananas. Beloved by all (pretty much), bananas offer an easy and delicious way to get potassium. An average banana delivers roughly 500 milligrams of potassium. A sliced banana over a whole-oat cereal, mashed on whole-grain toast or eaten alone as a snack will give you a good potassium boost.
- Avocados. This fruit (yes, fruit) is loaded with health benefits, including vitamins, healthy fats and plenty of potassium – more than 1,000 milligrams per avocado.
Add avocado to salads and sandwiches, or enjoy them as a savory side dish.
- Acorn squash. This winter squash plant might be the next “superfood.” Not only is it a great source of potassium, it's brimming with antioxidants, which may protect against disease. One cup of cooked acorn squash delivers about 900 milligrams of potassium. Try cooking it as a side dish, or blend squash chunks with roasted vegetables and drizzle with olive oil.
- Spinach. Whether fresh or frozen, spinach is a potassium powerhouse. One cup of frozen spinach provides more than 800 milligrams of potassium. Add this versatile vegetable to salads, stir-fry meals, pasta dishes, casseroles and smoothies. Keep spinach on hand in the freezer to remind you to use it often.
- Salmon. Fresh or canned, wild-caught salmon is a terrific source of potassium. It’s also rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. A 6-ounce piece of salmon has about 650 milligrams of potassium. Try it with mixed wild rice, or with steamed spinach and a side of roasted acorn squash for a potassium-rich dinner that tastes amazing.
Foods rich in potassium are part of the DASH diet. The acronym stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The National Institutes of Health promotes DASH as a way to create heart-healthy eating habits.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure, maybe the DASH diet is right for you. Talk to your health care provider for guidance.
Do you have a recipe that’s rich in potassium?
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