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7 Signs You May Not Be Getting Enough Potassium

Potassium is a crucial electrolyte that helps your muscles, but if your levels are too low, you could be in trouble. If you match many of these signs, you might want to ask your doctor about a potassium deficiency. Better safe than sorry!

The scoop on potassium

Like calcium or magnesium, potassium is an electrolyte that helps your body function—it’s also one of the nutrients that nutritionists can’t get enough of. Potassium lowers your blood pressure and helps with digestive and muscular function, so keeping these levels steady and knowing when to get tested for a potassium deficiency can keep you out of the hospital.

You have a poor diet

It’s easy to reach for cookies, chips, and comfort snacks, but if your day-to-day diet isn’t balanced, you could end up with a potassium deficiency. “If this is someone not good at eating fruits and vegetables, eating a lot of processed foods, junk foods, they’re at risk for lower potassium levels,” says Manuel Villacorta MS, registered dietitian and founder of Whole Body Reboot in California. Here are some potassium-rich foods to add to your diet instead.

Your muscles feel weak

When you’re low on potassium, you’ll feel it in your muscles because potassium is an electrolyte needed for muscle construction and contraction. “Potassium is an electrolyte needed by your muscles,” says Villacorta. “One of the first symptoms people feel is muscle contraction.”

Your muscles are cramping

Because your muscles need healthy potassium levels, if you dip below a certain point, you could get muscle cramps. “People experience muscle cramps when their potassium is too low,” says Villacorta.

You’re taking diuretics or fluid pills

According to nutritionist Alyse Levine, MS, RD, of Nutritionbite in California, the most common reason for potassium deficiency is prescription water or fluid pills such as diuretics. The pills cause excessive potassium loss of potassium in urine. “Only rarely is low potassium caused by not getting enough potassium in your diet,” says Levine.

Your heart rate is abnormal

Severely low levels of potassium can mess with your heart rate, and even cause arrhythmias if potassium levels dip critically low. Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition in Florida, says that potassium electrolyte imbalances can even be fatal, which is why they’re so important.

You’re dehydrated

Auslander says that electrolyte imbalances like lowered potassium usually only occur with dehydration, eating disorders, or athletes, but they can be helped. “Coconut water is an excellent re-hydrating method for serious sports,” she says, “but honestly, water has been proven to be almost as good.”

You have dry skin or acne

Megan Lyons, health coach and owner of The Lyons’ Share Wellness in Texas, says a potassium deficiency can show up with easy-to-spot symptoms like dry skin, acne, or digestive discomfort. “Of course, these symptoms are indicated in many different conditions, so it’s important to get tested if you suspect you have a potassium deficiency,” says Lyons.

BY ALEXANDRA WHITTAKER
source: www.rd.com
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Potatoes Are Healthy

By: Becky Striepe   April 8, 2016 

Potatoes sometimes get disregarded because we associate them with greasy fries and chips, but whole potatoes cooked with healthy techniques give you a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.

My family eats a LOT of potatoes. Mashed, baked, roasted or steamed, sometimes we eat potatoes every single night of the week. No, really. My first cookbook was inspired by my husband’s enthusiasm for my dairy-free mashed potatoes.

Potato Nutrition
The problem with potatoes isn’t the potato itself, it’s how we tend to prepare them. Mashed potatoes full of butter and cream are not doing you any favors. French fries are certainly not good for you, and potato chips are arguably even worse. But you don’t have to deep fry a potato or drown it in butter to make it taste good, and when you look at the nutritional value of the vegetable itself, it’s pretty decent.

One large baked potato with the skin contains:

  • no fat or cholesterol
  • 7 grams of fiber
  • 7 grams of protein
  • 48 percent of your daily vitamin C
  • 18 percent of your daily iron
  • 4 percent of your daily calcium
  • 46 percent of your daily potassium
  • 46 percent of your vitamin B6

Not too shabby, right? We ruin this poor root vegetable’s health value when we deep fry it or slather it in fatty dairy products.

In fact, potatoes contain a compound called kukoamines that lower blood pressure. Its high B6 content means it can contribute to brain and heart health. Of course, if you slather that potato with cheese, sour cream and bacon, you’re likely undoing any heart-healthy benefits. Let’s look at some healthier ways to cook potatoes instead.

Potatoes sometimes get short shrift, because we associate them with greasy fries and chips, but whole potatoes cooked with healthy techniques give you a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.
Only joking…you don’t have to eat your potatoes raw. In fact, you shouldn’t!

potato

Healthy Ways to Cook a Potato
Potatoes are one of the foods you should never eat raw. Luckily, there are lots of healthy ways to cook a potato. For healthy cooking, you know that deep frying is out, but there are so many other ways to cook a potato.

1. Healthier baked potatoes: Kitchen Treaty has a step by step for baking the perfect potato. Instead of bacon and sour cream, though, reach for healthier toppings. Try steamed broccoli and a tahini drizzle on your next baked potato! You can also use salsa, cashew cream or a healthy gravy, like my no-cook miso gravy, to top your baked potato. Load up with veggies and green onions, and you’ve got a healthy, one-plate meal.

2. Healthier mashed potatoes: Instead of mashing with butter and cream, use olive oil, a little salt and your favorite non-dairy milk. Potatoes are healthier with the skin on, so instead of thick-skinned russets, choose red or white potatoes. No peeling required!

3. Roasted potatoes: Dice your potatoes, toss with olive oil, rosemary and a little salt, and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Your potatoes are done when they’re browned on the outside and fork-tender all the way through.

4. Healthier fries: Oven fries are the healthier answer to your next French fry craving. Cadry’s Kitchen has a great recipe for making the perfect oven fries, including how to select the right potato for the best results.

5. Steamed potatoes: Cubed potatoes actually make a great base for a meal, sort of like baked potatoes, but even more cozy somehow. Pile on veggies, your protein of choice and your favorite healthy sauce, and you’re in business. You can steam potatoes on the stovetop, but my new favorite way to steam them is in the pressure cooker. It’s fast and very hands-off. Cut your potatoes of choice into 2″ pieces, stick them into a steamer basket with 1 cup of water underneath it in your pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for 4 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally. They’re perfect every single time!


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The Health Benefits of Bananas

Are Bananas Good for You?

TrimDownClub, Apr 30, 2015

You probably think that bananas are good for you. But the banana is one of nature’s candy bars: wrapped, ready to eat, and full of sugar. That makes bananas bad for you. Or does it?

After all, we now know that because high blood sugar levels are very dangerous for your body, your body aggressively stores sugar as fat.

This means that eating sugar—or foods that the body can rapidly convert to sugar, such as refined carbs—can cause massive hormonal and energy swings when your body stores that sugar as fat…leaving you hungrier than ever.

However

What Makes Bananas so Good for You?

For most of us, the answer to the question, “are bananas good for you?” is a resounding “Yes”!

Even with all their sugar.According to the USDA, bananas have less water than other fruit: they are 75% water, compared to oranges, which are 86% water. The result? They tend to have about 89 calories per 100 grams, while oranges have about 49 calories per 100 grams[i].

A medium-sized banana is from 7-8 inches/18-20 cm long, and at about 4 ounces/118 grams, is considered a single serving. A medium banana contains 105 calories, 14.4 grams of sugar, 3.1 grams of fiber, and 1.3 grams of protein.

This means you get a lot of sweet, natural goodness in a small, easily digestible package, making bananas a great way to cure a sugar craving. Just like a candy bar, a banana will satisfy your sweet tooth—but unlike a candy bar, a banana won’t take you for a ride on the sugar roller coaster that leaves you empty, drained, and craving more sugar. That’s because bananas have a lot more going on than just sugar.

So let’s open up that bright yellow wrapper and learn why bananas are so good for us.

What Makes Bananas Healthy?

Bananas are so healthy that even the sugar in bananas is good for you.

One reason is that bananas are good for you is because they’re rich in fiber, 3.1 grams for a medium banana. The US Recommended Daily Allowance of fiber is 38 grams a day for men and 25 grams a day for women. Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium and magnesium: that medium banana contains 422 mg of potassium and 32 mg magnesium.

Most Americans don’t get enough of either fiber or potassium, yet both are important to your health. In fact, magnesium is critical for transporting potassium across cell membranes, so it can play an important role in maintaining a normal heart rate.

What is Fiber and Why Do I Need More of It?

If you’ve ever wondered why a sweet treat like a banana doesn’t go straight to your belly, fiber is why. In fact, fiber is one of the reasons why the sugar in the banana doesn’t immediately rush to derail your metabolism.

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber forms a gel-like material when it is dissolved in water. It slows down your digestion and helps reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in apples, barley, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, oats, peas, and psyllium.

Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve. It helps move material through your gastrointestinal tract and bulks up stools, so it’s very helpful to people suffering from constipation or who are irregular. Beans, nuts, wheat bran, whole-wheat flour, and vegetables like cauliflower and other Brassicas, green beans and sweet and white potatoes are all excellent sources of insoluble fiber.

Most whole foods, like bananas, contain both types of fiber. The soluble fiber in the banana—along with the magnesium and beneficial phytonutrients—slows how quickly your body metabolizes the sugar in it. This means that the sugar is less likely to spike or trigger an insulin overreaction that too quickly shuttles sugar from your blood to your fat cells to protect you from high blood sugar—leaving you hungrier than ever and craving more sugar. Instead, your body slowly shuttles that sugar to your muscles for immediate use or to your liver for short-term storage…where your body can easily make use of it.

This makes bananas healthy candy. So if you’re trying to break a sugar addiction, don’t try to defeat your cravings with willpower. The sugar of a banana will take the edge off those cravings so you don’t find yourself eating.

Bananas

Why Do I Need More Potassium?

According to the World Health Organization[ii], we need to eat less than 2,000 mg of sodium (that’s 5 grams of table salt) and at least 3,510 mg of potassium per day. When we eat too much sodium and not enough potassium, we’re at increased risk of higher blood pressure, and thus also heart disease and stroke. Worldwide, these are the leading causes of death and disability. In fact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading killer of Americans, and stroke.

Most of us eat far too much sodium and far too little potassium. So grab a banana to be healthy.

How Else Are Bananas Good for You?

  • Their high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium have garnered bananas official recognition from the FDA as protecting you from heart attack and stroke by lowering your blood pressure[iii], confirmed in a clinical study with bananas.
  • Bananas are rich in healthy B-vitamins that help your body maintain a healthy metabolism and reduce health risks associated with type 2 diabetes, are important for your nervous system, and help your body produce white blood cells.
  • The potassium in bananas help your body maintain healthy fluid balance, which protects against swelling.
  • Bananas also help keep you healthy by potentially reducing your risk of kidney cancer, and macular degeneration (due to the high content of the carotenoid “lutein”).
  • If you suffer from PMS or want to improve your mood whether you have PMS or not, eat a banana.
  • The sugar and potassium in bananas is also good for you when you are learning or concentrating[iv]. So eat a banana if you want to be focused!
  • Want to power through a vigorous workout? Consider eating bananas first as their mixture of slow-moving sugar plus electrolytes can help keep your energy level steady.
  • The potassium and magnesium in bananas may help protect you from muscle cramps at night and during workouts.
  • Bananas are rich in pectin, a soluble dietary fiber and natural detoxifying agent, great for digestion.
  • Banana fiber contains prebiotics that encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the bowel. These bacteria produce digestive enzymes that help your body absorb nutrients, and actual support healthy weight management.
  • All that fiber in bananas is good for helping ease constipation…
  • Bananas are also a healthy way to sooth your GI tract if you have the runs.
  • Bananas may naturally soothe acid reflux, heartburn and GERD.
  • If you have stomach ulcers, raw bananas may “coat” your stomach and relieve the distress caused by stomach acids.
  • Bananas are rich in antioxidants, especially when overripe which protect you against free radicals and chronic disease.

And from the files of folk medicine[v]

  • If you have an insect bite or hives, rub them with the inside of the banana peel. This may help reduce the itching and inflammation.
  • If you have a wart, you can try to remove it by taping the inside of a piece of banana peel over the wart.
  • If you have morning sickness and suffer from hypoglycemia, eating bananas may help.
  • If you’re quitting smoking, the high levels of B-vitamins, potassium and magnesium in bananas are good for you, helping you recover quickly from nicotine withdrawal.
  • Last but not least, if you’re suffering from a hangover, make a banana milkshake and sweeten it with honey. The fruit will calm your stomach, the honey will help normalize your blood sugar, and the milk will rehydrate you.

Are Bananas Bad for You?

With all this going for them, it sounds like bananas can’t possibly be bad for you. But to make all that sweet goodness of a banana go even further, eat it with some healthy fat and protein, like 2 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter or some cheese, and an egg, or a handful of your favorite nuts. This further slows your body’s absorption of the banana’s sugar, so you can use more of it, longer. And you get a wonderful combination of sugar, salt and fat that most of us naturally love.

The only way bananas can be bad for you—outside of an allergy, of course— is if you have kidney disease. If your kidneys have been damaged (a common side-effect of diabetes) and can’t properly regulate your potassium levels, high levels of potassium can cause serious heart problems. If you have kidney disease and potassium is a concern, please consult with your renal dietitian to create a food plan that has safe levels of potassium. However, with proper planning, you may still be able to enjoy this natural candy bar.

References
[i]   United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. Retrieved 30-Mar-2015 from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2208?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=35&sort=&qlookup=banana+raw&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=.
[ii]   World Health Organization (WHO). WHO issues new guidance on dietary salt and potassium. WHO Media Centre. 31-Jan-2013. Retrieved 30-Mar-2015 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/salt_potassium_20130131/en/
[iii] American Heart Association (AHA). Potassium and High Blood Pressure. Retrieved 30 Mar 2015 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp.
[iv] Sobir I. Bananas improve concentration in children. Tropical Fruit Research, Bogor Institute of Agriculture. 2010.
Retrieved 30 Mar 2015 from http://health.kompas.com/read/2010/03/12/09365852/Pisang..Tingkatkan.Konsentrasi.Anak.
[v] Amazing Bananas. Retrieved 30-Mar-2015 from http://rense.com/general85/bananas.htm.


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The Dried Fruit That Could Prevent and Reverse Bone Mass Loss

by Shubhra Krishan       Follow Shubhra at @eskrishan

Think prunes and the first word that pops into the mind is probably something along the lines of “digestion.” For centuries, grandmas have encouraged us to eat prunes for keeping things smooth and regular. Besides, this dried and wrinkled avatar of plums is quite delicious, too.

But their ability to strengthen bones should make you reach out for prunes more often.

A research study conducted at the Florida State University in Tallahassee studied the effect of eating prunes on postmenopausal women. It found that women who ate prunes every day for a year did not suffer loss of bone mass in the spine and forearm. The key ingredients that make prunes so effective in preserving bone health are phenolic and flavonoid compounds, both known to improve bone mass. Prunes are also a rich source of boron, potassium and Vitamin K, each of which is beneficial for bones.

prunes

Fifty-eight postmenopausal women not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were randomly assigned to consume either 100 g dried plums or 75 g dried apples daily for 3 months. Both dried fruit regimens provided similar amounts of calories, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber. Serum and urinary biochemical markers of bone status were assessed before and after treatment.

The result? Women who consumed dried plums significantly increased the bone mineral density of ulna and spine in comparison with dried apple.

The results of this study suggest that prunes could go beyond preventing bone loss–they could, in fact, reverse loss of bone mass as well. Arjmandi BH, who led the research, points out that “Loss of bone volume accompanied by loss of trabecular connectivity is generally believed to be an irreversible process, but our observations suggest that dried plum improves trabecular microstructure of tibia after losses have already occurred may exert positive effects on bone in postmenopausal women.”

Not looking to eat prunes every day? Other foods that are great for bone health include leafy greens, seeds, nuts and beans.


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10 Reasons to Eat More Carrots

Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati    January 28, 2015

Carrots are more than a tasty addition to soups, salads and juices. They are also good for your body’s overall health, especially that of the skin, eyes, digestive system and teeth!

So if the sweet flavor isn’t enough, enjoy these 10 reasons to eat more carrots:

1. Beta carotene: Carrots are a rich source of this powerful antioxidant, which, among other vital uses, can be converted into vitamin A in the body to help maintain healthy skin.

2. Digestion: Carrots increase saliva and supply essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes that aid in digestion. Eating carrots regularly may help prevent gastric ulcers and other digestive disorders.

3. Alkaline elements: Carrots are rich in alkaline elements, which purify and revitalize the blood while balancing the acid/alkaline ratio of the body.

4. Potassium: Carrots are a good source of potassium, which can help maintain healthy sodium levels in the body, thereby helping to reduce elevated blood pressure levels.

5. Dental Health: Carrots kill harmful germs in the mouth and help prevent tooth decay.

carrots

6. Wounds: Raw or grated carrots can be used to help heal wounds, cuts and inflammation.

7. Phytonutrients: Among the many beneficial phytochemicals that carrots contain is a phytonutrient called falcarinol, which may reduce the risk of colon cancer and help promote overall colon health.

8. Carotenoids: Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which our bodies can use to help regulate blood sugar.

9.  Fiber: Carrots are high in soluble fiber, which may reduce cholesterol by binding the LDL form (the kind we don’t want) and increasing the HDL form (the kind our body needs) to help reduce blood clots and prevent heart disease.

10. Eyes, hair, nails and more! The nutrients in carrots can improve the health of your eyes, skin, hair, nails and more through helping to detoxify your system and build new cells!

There are plenty more reasons to enjoy these crunchy, sweet root vegetables, so reserve a spot in your garden plot for planting some, or pop down to the local market to pick up a bunch!