This month, matters of the heart come to mind…

Heart disease is STILL a top killer in this country despite better drugs and drug plans, advancements in cardiac surgery and a wider range of rehab and recovery options. It’s still a top killer despite the fact that 80 percent of all cases of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol are 100 percent preventable.

Let’s start with blood pressure – one of so many silent killers. People concentrate on sodium restriction, but it’s equally important to look at the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet. Unfortunately the average person’s diet is still very high in sodium from packaged foods, while being woefully low in potassium and magnesium, the other really important mineral for regulating blood pressure. (Magnesium’s counter is calcium, which we tend to get too much of, but that’s another blog.)

What foods are highest in potassium and magnesium? Fruits and vegetables, of course!

The following are Top 8 Picks for foods high in potassium and magnesium. If you want to lower your risk of heart disease choose these daily – in place of processed foods:

  • Swiss chard: Delivers a whopping 961 mg of potassium per cup. Bonus points for also delivering 150 mg of magnesium! Spinach: One cup of this nutrient-rich superfood contains 839mg of potassium, not to mention over 150 mg of magnesium.
  • Orange and grapefruit juice: One cup of orange juice contains 496 mg of potassium (more than a banana!), but at 378 mg per cup, grapefruit juice is almost as good.
  • Dried apricots:  1100 mg of potassium per half cup. (Keep it to a maximum of 6 per day for calories sake.)
  • Yams and sweet potatoes: A cup cooked yams has 911 mg of potassium and 5.3 grams of fiber to boot! The easier-to-find sweet potato is also a great source, with one medium baked sweet providing 542 mg.
  • Avocados (my favourite!):  A single avocado contains between 690 mg of potassium (California variety) and a chart-topping 1067 mg of potassium (Florida variety). California avocados are lower in a calories though, if that’s concern for you.
  • Beans: All beans are incredibly high in potassium and magnesium but Adzuki beans top the charts with 1224 mg of potassium (and 120 mg of magnesium).
  • Kale: One cup of chopped raw kale delivers 299 mg of potassium plus about 40% of your minimum requirement for magnesium.

While the above list represents your all-star team of blood-pressure lowering foods, there are plenty of others that can help get you to your goal of 4700mg of potassium per day. Depending on your age, stress and activity level, your goal for magnesium can be anywhere from 300 to 450 mg or more per day.

To book an appointment with Emily Kennedy, MSc RHN, registered nutritionist please call (905)294-2335.

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