Tips and Tricks: Please pass the potassium

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By Allison Lewis

Two out of three American adults have hypertension or prehypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in America. Fortunately, most cases of high blood pressure can be improved or prevented through diet changes.
Most of our diets are too high in sodium and too low in potassium. Too much sodium in your diet increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. The average American consumes nearly 50 percent more sodium than they need each day. A diet that is high in potassium can lower your risk of developing hypertension, especially for those who are sensitive to sodium. High potassium foods help prevent or lower high blood pressure as they cause the kidneys to get rid of excess sodium in the body.
You can find potassium in a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products. Good sources of potassium include, but are not limited to, small baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, bananas, dried apricots, poultry, fish, milk and soy products.
Besides reducing high blood pressure risks, potassium has several other benefits including maintaining your body’s water balance, helping build muscles, maintaining normal growth as we age, and helping your body digest carbohydrates, which helps control your blood sugar levels.
For more information on incorporating more potassium in your diet, contact  Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.