The high potassium foods in the fruit and vegetable category are functional foods. Not all fruits and vegetables are high potassium foods. So those fruits and vegetables that are low in potassium will not have all the advantages of the high potassium ones. Multiple epidemiological studies show that high potassium fruits and vegetables contribute to less hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. Not all of the favorable effects come from the potassium ion alone. But it is probably the biggest contributor to good health.
Multiple epidemiological studies show the benefits of high potassium foods. They show that populations consuming diets with large amounts of high potassium fruits and vegetables have greater longevity and less cardiovascular disease than those who consume less.
How Fruits And Vegetables Contribute To Health
What are the ways that fruits and vegetables contribute to lower blood pressure and less cardiovascular disease? The best documented way is their high potassium and low sodium content. Diets that were otherwise unchanged except for adding potassium chloride or potassium bicarbonate resulted in lower blood pressure. However, these were short term studies. The long term studies showing lower blood pressure used high potassium foods. But these foods have multiple other biologically active components beyond potassium.
Components Of Fruits And Vegetables Affecting Cells
These components have both direct and indirect actions in our cells. Some of the potential actions are direct and indirect antioxidant actions. Other components act by reducing inflammation. Yet other components improve the ability of blood vessels to dilate. And some improve the health of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels. Researchers are studying the degree to which these actions are important, as well as multiple other actions.
How High Potassium Foods Are Functional Foods
A heavily studied action of the high potassium foods is the action of potassium on the secretion of aldosterone, which leads to lower blood pressure. Aldosterone also affects the excretion of sodium and potassium by the kidneys. And this leads to less excretion of calcium. The calcium stays in the bone, so the bone is less likely to become osteoporotic. Since the calcium stays out of the urine, calcium stones do not form. Researchers have worked out many of the details of this process.
Researchers have also studied many of the other substances in fruits and vegetables, but the researchers have not worked out the mechanisms by which these substances improve health as well as they have for potassium. Vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, selenium, and multiple phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and flavonoids are all being studied.
Probably as important as what the high potassium fruits and vegetables contain is what they do not contain. Researchers have shown excessive saturated fat to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Very few high potassium foods are high in saturated fat.
Sodium is another harmful substance when consumed in excess. It is absent or only present in small amounts in the high potassium vegetables and fruits. In the tables on this site, only the fruits and vegetables with a ratio of 3 potassium to 1 sodium are included in the high potassium foods tables. We do not consider foods with a lower ratio to be high potassium foods. But some of the tables for other types of foods have a lower ratio when there are very few high potassium foods.
To Find A Table Of High Potassium Vegetables
The table of the high potassium vegetables is reached by clicking the “links to Food Potassium Tables”. Click on the link to the high potassium vegetables. You can pick from the large selection in the table, and prepare them as we have discussed in the post on how to prevent potassium loss during preparation.
We discussed how there have been studies not showing individual components, especially the antioxidants, to have a favorable effect on cardiovascular disease. There are multiple possible reasons why the studies may have failed to show an effect, but that does not necessarily mean they are ineffective.
By combining high potassium foods from all the main food groups you can get the proven benefits of high potassium food while getting the potential benefits of the other substances that may eventually be shown to contribute functionally to health.