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Potassium, an essential mineral, is crucial for healthy functioning of all cells, tissues and organs in the body. Sodium, like potassium, is an electrolyte, or a substance that conducts electricity in the body. Your body works to keep potassium and sodium, the main ingredient in salt, in proper balance. Potassium is the primary electrolyte inside the cells while sodium is the primary electrolyte outside the cells. Although these minerals work together in your body, you can consume foods that are naturally high in potassium but low in sodium.
Aim to get the recommended amount of potassium and sodium in your diet. Adults need 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. You should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. However, if you are older than 51, African-American or have a high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, you should limit your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day. Industrialized cultures consume approximately three times more salt in their diet than potassium, which contributes to chronic health problems.
Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables. These contain the most potassium and are low in sodium. A medium baked potato with the skin has 741 milligrams of potassium and only 10 milligrams of sodium. Other good sources of potassium include bananas, plums, oranges, tomatoes, artichoke, squash and spinach.
Avoid adding salt to your food. Just one teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium. Many condiments and sauces are high in sodium. Check their nutritional labels to determine the amount of sodium in them.
Steer clear of packaged and processed foods, such as soups, frozen dinners and box dinners, even if these contain potassium. These types of food are often high in sodium.
Take potassium supplements or multivitamins after getting clearance from your doctor. Potassium supplements contain potassium without any salt or sodium.
Article reviewed by Molly Solanki Last updated on: Nov 13, 2012