By now you have made great changes in the potassium and sodium in your diet. By changing to the high potassium foods in vegetables, fruits, meat, and dairy and nuts, you have improved the ratio of potassium to sodium. Depending on how much you already include grains and spices in your diet, you may get a lot or only a little out of changing these foods to the high potassium varieties.
Grains Are A Major Part Of The American Diet
Because suppliers produce grains so inexpensively, they are now a major part of most American's diet in one form or another. In the past, intact grains formed a large part of the diet. Today the products derived from processing the grains have replaced intact grains in many people's diet.
The easiest way to maintain a high potassium foods diet in America is the elimination of grain products. However, since for many people these products are a major part of the diet, this is not a realistic approach. The kids especially will protest not having them, because of the usual high sugar and salt content that gives them their taste. So plan that this part of the transition may take a while if you or your kids eat a lot of bakery goods.
Grains can be a great source of potassium. As an intact grain, many are high potassium foods, discussed previously. However, how they are processed makes a huge difference in whether they are a high potassium food or a high sodium food.
How To Get High Potassium Grains Into Your Diet
You have many ways to get high potassium grains into your diet. But so many of the low potassium, high sodium grain products appear the same as the high potassium, low sodium products. It can easily mislead you.
The easiest first step to transition to a high potassium grains diet is using the intact grains in place of the processed grain whenever possible. For example, use high potassium ready-to-eat cereals or cooked intact grains, such as rolled oats and oat bran, in place of the many ready-to-eat or cooked cereals that are not high potassium. You can find the high potassium cereals tables by clicking the “Links To Food Potassium Tables” tab at the top of the page.
In the second step you replace the usual grain products with the low sodium products. Almost all will still be low in potassium, such as the pastas like macaroni, sphagetti, or noodles. But by using the products listed on the high potassium grains or cereals tables, you will stay within the 3 to 1 ratio that is healthy.
For the foods processed from grains, grinding the grain into flour does not change the potassium content. The problem arises from the self rising flour used to produce many products. If the product contains no self rising flour, the product may have a favorable potassium to sodium ratio. If the product contains self rising flour, it will be loaded with sodium. Self rising flour consists of 1 cup flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. The latter two are compounds of sodium.
Grains And Cereals Tables
The tables on the grains and cereals pages will help you narrow the food items for you to consider. They are large tables that include a lot of foods. Some of the food values can mislead, though. The lower potassium content of many cooked foods is probably from how the food was cooked. The researchers at the USDA National Database did not say how they cooked the products. But most likely, they cooked them in boiling water and then discarded the water.
Much of the potassium leaches out of the food into the water. So the USDA researchers were throwing out the potassium by cooking in boiling water. If you use just enough water to cook the food, and do not throw out the water, you will lose no potassium. This is how I cook oats and quinoa intact grains for a morning breakfast cereal, or to use as a side dish for lunch or dinner. We will discuss cooking techniques to retain potassium in future posts.