A recent study in the American Clinical Journal of Nutrition highlighted that 98% of Americans weren't consuming their RDA of potassium. The reason for this is simple: potassium is primarily found in fresh fruits and vegetables. This is a problem. If potassium was present in sugar or white flour or the oil used for deep frying or even hamburger patties, there would be no deficiency, as we in Western Society consume plenty of that stuff... but we aren't big on the fresh fruit and veg for some reason.
Why is this a problem? Every cell in our bodies requires potassium to properly function. It is an essential dietary mineral salt also known as an electrolyte, which helps to regulate fluids (which is why it is always found in sports drinks). But it also works to synthesize protein, facilitate muscle growth and support heart health (by working in opposition to sodium to lower blood pressure and decrease stroke risk). It has even been shown to help decrease inflammation and combat autoimmune diseases.
So, it is vitally important that we get enough, but what are the best sources of dietary potassium, you might be wondering? What is the first fruit or vegetable that comes to mind when you think of potassium? I'm guessing 98% of you answered bananas right away. But that's just good marketing, it turns out. As Dr. Michael Greger points out in one of the videos linked above (ie. this one), bananas actually rank 86th in the list of top sources of potassium, right above vanilla milkshakes!
In this article on his excellent Nutrition Facts website, he provides some resources on how to discover the best sources of potassium, including this chart from the USDA nutrient database which sorts foods by their potassium content. Along with things like tomato products and orange juice, we find some of the usual suspects for good nutrition: beans, greans, mushrooms and dried fruits. (Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also good, as long as you leave the skin on, because that's where they like to hide it.)
Luckily, these things are also delicious (aka "potassi-yum"), as Christina proved when she whipped up this week's recipe off the top of her head, while I stood by in awe, taking pictures and notes. This is the benefit our family enjoys thanks to her years of culinary experience. Many of our great recipes come thanks to her method of tinkering and adapting. We're pretty sure this delicious mushroom recipe will become one of your new favourites, too--with the exception of loyal reader E.M. (currently of London, Ontario), whose antipathy towards fungus is humongous. Everybody else, please enjoy with our best wishes.