Once you are aware of the main categories of high potassium foods discussed in the last post, you can begin to plan a transition to a diet of high potassium foods. Most people cannot change all at once. Typically, the change in taste is too much. Most Americans like the high salt and high sugar taste of the typical Western diet. They have tasted food with those tastes their entire life. And if you are in charge of the meals for the entire family, you don't have to please just yourself. In addition, you have to please the kids.
It is best to just change a few things at a time. For many of us, eating out less is the easiest place to start. Namely, Americans eat out for fifty percent of their meals.
If you eat restaurant food, whether at the restaurant or by taking it home, you will get such a large load of sodium that it will be almost impossible to get enough potassium to satisfy the healthy 3 to 1 ratio of potassium to sodium. Previously, we discussed the problems with fast foods and sit-down restaurants in a prior post. Of 357 fast foods listed in the National Database, only 17 are high potassium foods. And sit-down restaurants are no better.
If you reduce the number of times you eat out, the sodium load will be much easier to overcome. More restaurants have begun to provide local food. And local food does not have to be loaded with sodium as a preservative. But such restaurants are still in the very small minority. Even salads at the average fast food place has a load of sodium when you add the dressing.
You also should eliminate the prepared, packaged meals at the grocery, such as Stouffer's, Healthy Choice, Campbell or other prepared meals and entrees. They are all high in sodium to extend shelf life. Specifically, none of the prepared meals in the National Nutrient Database have a favorable ratio of potassium to sodium.
The second step is to find what foods you like. By looking at the tables on this website, you can note the foods you like. Then you should begin to think of ways to introduce them into your meals by substituting them for high sodium foods. The tab labeled “Links To High Potassium Food Tables” at the top of the page has multiple links to the tables.
The food groups that will provide the biggest change in potassium and sodium are the fruits and vegetables. These foods would be the best place to start. Substitute some of the high potassium fruits and vegetables for those you eat that are not in the high potassium tables. By eating them uncooked, steamed, grilled or baked, depending on the exact food, you will not lose the potassium in the food. And by not using salt in a marinade or sauce, you will keep the sodium content down.
By going step by step and not changing everything at once, you can transition to a healthier and healthier diet. You will discover new ways to prepare foods and new tastes while reducing your chances of osteoporosis and high blood pressure, as well as their associated health problems.