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According to the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines, less than 3% of Americans are meeting the current adequate intake for potassium (4700 mg/day). Research suggests that diets rich in potassium and low in sodium reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Accumulating evidence also suggests that increasing dietary potassium can negate some of the negative effects of dietary sodium on blood pressure. Reducing sodium along with increasing potassium provides greater heart disease protection than intervention alone.
The Potato is a Food Rich in Potassium
Potatoes provide one of the most concentrated and affordable sources of potassium—significantly more than those foods commonly associated with being high in potassium (e.g. bananas, oranges, mushrooms, etc.). In fact, potatoes rank highest for potassium content among the top 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables and the top 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits. One medium potato (5.3 ounces) with the skin contains 620 mg of potassium. That’s 15% of your daily requirement and more than a banana.
According to research conducted by Dr. Adam Drewnowski and colleagues from the University of Washington, white potatoes are the largest and most affordable source of potassium of any vegetable or fruit, and they are one of the best nutritional values in the produce department, providing significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables. Potassium-rich white potatoes are almost half the cost of most other vegetables, making it more affordable to meet key dietary guidelines for good health.
Potassium is an electrolyte essential for the body’s growth and maintenance and is necessary to keep a proper balance of water inside and outside of the body’s cells. Potassium also plays an essential role in the response of nerves to stimulation and in the contraction of muscles, including the heart muscle. For more information, including a vast compilation of nutrition science that supports potatoes role in a healthful diet, please consult the Potato Nutrition Handbook.
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