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Interesting Information: The Worth of Bananas

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Interesting Information:  March 24, 2014

The Worth of Bananas

 

A friend was here recently, and she was SHOCKED that I rarely eat a banana.

“What about potassium?” she said.

“Well,” I said, “bananas being a good source for potassium is mostly food industry hype and does not take into account the down side of eating bananas.”

“What???”

One medium banana of the type in our stores has 450/mg of potassium–and a whole lot of starchy carbohydrates that aren’t much good for anything.  (Highly colored bananas in other parts of the world carry a better nutrient load than the yellow banana to which we have standardized–an incredible loss of diversity through monocrop cultures run by industry.)  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to lose another 20 pounds, and I can’t do that by eating useless, starchy carbs.

And there are better food sources for potassium:

Flounder (6 ounces) has 996.

Winter squash (1 cup cooked) has 946.

One medium white potato has 844.

Salmon (6 ounces fresh) has 756.

Cod (6 ounces) has 690.

Parsnips (1 cup cooked) has between 573 to 758.

Avocado (1/2 medium) has 602.

Asparagus (1 cup lightly cooked( has 558.

Orange juice freshly squeezed (1 cup) 496 and collard greens (1 cup cooked) 468

Broccoli (1 cup) comes just below banana at 440.

Other sources are chicken, sweet potato, celery, and tuna.

(I left out the dried fruits as they aren’t especially good for you even if they have good doses of potassium.)

Potassium is a mineral that works as an electrolyte that carries “tiny electrical charges throughout the body, and especially ensures the proper functioning of the heart,” according to Rachel Albert, B.A., in “Charging Up With Potassium” in Well Being Journal, Jan/Feb 2013 (35-37).  (I love Rachel Albert’s The Garden of Eating–it has wonderful recipes and a plan for how to manage to always have really good food available in your home by cooking multiple dishes at once and adding to them as you go along in the week.)

Potassium deficiency “may include fatigue, weakness, irritability, loss of muscle strength, muscle cramps or spasms (charley horses), swollen ankles, general edema, and recurring headaches that come at the same tie each day” (35).

Albert writes that “potassium and sodium play a tug of war across the cell walls in your body, with the delicate balance of your body chemistry at stake.  So, when the sodium concentration is high, potassium is literally stolen from your body.  It is leached from your tissues, poured into your blood stream, then dumped into your urine and excreted.  Conversely, when the potassium content outweighs sodium, your body is able to release and let go of excess sodium and water.  Potassium in its natural state acts as a mild diuretic and can counteract hypertension, which is more common among individuals and ethnic groups who consume few potassium-rich goods (37).  In hot weather, Albert notes, we need more potassium as we sweat potassium levels out of our bodies.

The more I read about our bodies, the more I am realizing how delicate the chemical balances can be.  I often have muscle cramps–especially after I eat some chocolate, I’ve noticed.  Or, when I hike.  And I know that my potassium can get too low–from a blood test the last time (March 2013) I had a bad food allergy attack.  The minute I take a potassium tablet, the cramps stop.

BUT, this article is the first time I’ve made an association between potassium and salt.  I eat and LOVE a LOT of salt–sea salt.  So maybe I’ll cut back a bit.  Salt is not the demon it has been made out to be for years–I’ve written about that on this blog–but I often put even more salt on foods before tasting them.  So…time for a bit of a change.  Perhaps I’ve been throwing off this potassium/salt balance in my body.

 

Written by louisaenright

March 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm

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