Because manufacturers of nutritional products are not allowed to sell supplements containing more than 99 milligrams of potassium per capsule, many people who consume healthy, balanced diets and take supplements are still not getting enough potassium. The mineral is not abundant in many commonly eaten foods and it cannot be adequately provided by nutritional products. In order to get enough potassium, you must be proactive about eating enough potassium-rich foods each day to keep your potassium levels at an optimal rate.
The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends that adults have 4.7 grams of potassium a day, while women who are breast-feeding need more than 5 grams per day. Even the most potassium-rich foods offer fewer than 1 gram per serving, so many people do not get all of the daily potassium they need from their diets. In fact, the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board says, most Americans do not get enough potassium, and the average woman between the ages of 31 and 50 only consumes half the potassium she needs each day.
The richest commonly consumed source of potassium is a baked potato with its skin on, which contains approximately 926 milligrams of potassium. 1/2 cup of prunes, or dried plums, offers 637 milligrams, while a half cup of raisins contains about 598 milligrams. Tomatoes, oranges and juices derived from them give you 200 to 400 milligrams of potassium per serving. Lesser sources of potassium include artichokes, acorn squash, lima beans, almonds, bananas, spinach and molasses. Potassium is also added to breakfast cereals, and those with dried fruit offer a particularly good supply of it.
We all know that a high sodium intake leads to high blood pressure, a common malady in the western world, but many do not realize why. According to The Linus Pauling Institute, people in the west only take in a third as much potassium as sodium. People in many other countries, who have lower incidences of hypertension, take in as much as seven times more potassium than sodium. This is significant, because having a higher concentration of sodium than potassium in your diet, says Colorado State University researcher J. Anderson, renders your body unable to properly regulate its water balance, causing an increase in your blood pressure.
Having too much potassium in your diet can also be dangerous, but this would be difficult to do with diet alone. If you take more than the legal amount of potassium in supplements, you could develop hyperkalemia, a serious disorder that can lead to kidney failure, abnormal heartbeat or heart attack. The safest way to maintain a healthy balance of potassium is to avoid high-sodium foods and enrich your diet with foods plentiful in potassium.
The shiitake mushroom, the third most widely distributed mushroom in the world, has enjoyed a prominent spot in Asian cuisine for centuries. People eat shiitake mushrooms raw, cooked or dried, making them a versatile food you can incorporate into a wide array of meals. Raw shiitakes offer the largest number of health benefits, but dried shiitakes are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Cooking a shiitake mushroom, however, depletes it of a large portion of its nutrients.
Shiitake mushrooms can be a beneficial addition to your diet if you are trying to lose weight or avoid gaining weight. A serving of four raw shiitake mushrooms has only 26 calories and less than a gram of fat. They also provide 2 grams of dietary fiber, helping to keep you feeling full and satisfied, and nearly 2 grams of protein. Cooked and dried shiitake mushrooms, though still extremely low in calories, are a little more energy-dense. Four of them have about 40 calories, but they are lower in protein and fiber than raw shiitake mushrooms.
Shiitake mushrooms provide B-complex vitamins that benefit your metabolism by helping your body convert food into energy. B vitamins also help your body make red blood cells, protecting you from developing anemia. Four raw shiitake mushrooms contain one-seventh of the riboflavin, one-fifth of the niacin and one-sixth of the vitamin B-6 you need each day. Cooked shiitake mushrooms have less of each of these vitamins, but dried shiitakes contain a little more riboflavin than raw mushrooms.
If you are trying to increase your intake of essential minerals, adding shiitake mushrooms is a flavorful way to supplement your diet. A serving of raw shiitakes provides about one-twentieth of the magnesium and potassium you need each day, as well as 10 percent of your recommended daily intake for phosphorus. Cooking shiitake mushrooms depletes them of three-fourths of their phosphorus content and two-thirds of their potassium content, but dried shiitakes have just as much potassium and even more magnesium than raw.
Shiitake mushrooms have anti-cancer properties, according to Japanese researchers who published a study in “Cancer Science” in 2011. The research team gave a powdered shiitake extract to mice with melanoma and found that their tumors stopped growing. Shiitake extract appears to restore melanoma-reactive T cells, an important aspect of cancer treatment. The researchers recommended using shiitake extract as part of a treatment program for cancer patients because it is safe and can easily be administered on an outpatient basis.