To stay healthy, the human body requires different minerals that are essential for different functions. For example, sodium is essential for neurotransmission i.e. the transmission of nerve impulses between nerve cells or neurons. Similarly, other minerals such as potassium, calcium, iodine, phosphorous, chlorine, magnesium, sulfur, etc are required by the body in varying amounts. Based on the amount of each mineral necessary for the body, the minerals are classified as major minerals and trace minerals.
Potassium is one of the major minerals, which means that our body requires substantial amounts of potassium for various functions. Chief among these functions are regulating muscle movement, maintaining the body's fluid balance, and regulating the expansion and contraction of the cardiac muscles. Read on for more information on potassium, its sources, and how a diet rich in potassium can help prevent heart ailments.
Sources of Potassium
In case you're left wondering what to eat to get the desired amounts of potassium from food, then here's your answer. Just have a look at the list of foods rich in potassium and try to include at least a few of them in your daily diet to ensure that your body gets its required amounts of this essential mineral.
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach
- Dry fruits
Benefits of Potassium for the Heart
Potassium is one mineral that has been proven to have a positive effect on the functioning of the cardiac muscles in more ways than one. Thus, intake of this mineral can help you have a healthy heart for years to come. Let's have a look at the ways in which potassium benefits the heart.
Effect of Potassium on Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that people who consume the required amounts of potassium in their diet, are less prone to suffer from high blood pressure. It has been established that regular intake of the mineral can keep a check on both, the systolic as well as the diastolic pressure.
Effect of Potassium on Cholesterol Levels
The role of potassium in reducing cholesterol has been established by the fact that almost all the food items that have been proven to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, are rich in potassium. Thus, consumption of dietary supplements that contain potassium are recommended for patients with higher than normal blood cholesterol levels.
However, it remains uncertain if it is only the potassium in these foods that is responsible for lowering the cholesterol. But one thing is certain and that is the fact that potassium is most abundantly found in fresh fruits and vegetables. If one regularly includes these foods in their diet, then it automatically reduces the calorie intake. Also, the high content of dietary fibers present in fresh fruits and vegetables, helps fight cholesterol.
Effect of Potassium on the Heartbeat
Potassium is also beneficial for people who suffer from irregular heartbeats. Also, people suffering from diseases of the heart such as ventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia and atrial flutter, can benefit from the intake of potassium. This is because potassium is essential for the timely contraction and relaxation of the heart muscles.
In addition to the above beneficiary effects of potassium, this mineral is also essential for preventing heart attacks. People with a history of heart attacks should include potassium rich foods in their diet, and if recommended by the doctor, should start the intake of potassium supplements.
This was all about potassium and the heart rate. In spite of the many health benefits of potassium, it is not recommended for people who are suffering from kidney problems. And if you are wondering what's the ideal amount of potassium to be consumed per day, then I'll be happy to tell you that the least amount is 4,700 milligrams, as recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, you need not worry as having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, will provide you with more than sufficient amounts of potassium.