Wednesday, 21 May 2014

WIAW #3: Potassium

Hi everyone!

We're half way through the week :)

I've had such a lovely day today. I woke up to sunshine and it put me in a great mood straight away. I went for a run and kept an average pace of 10 min/miles, which is just such a change from even just 4 weeks ago! I had a chat with a potential private clinic about getting help for my disordered eating and have an introductory session tomorrow evening, which I'm both excited and terrified about. I've had a blood test to check my iron and B12 levels are back to normal, cleaned the flat and did washing, made almond milk and prepped meals for the next couple of days, bought flowers and chocolates for my flatmate as it's the last exam of her phd tomorrow, went for dinner with my boyfriend and his parents...and went to the Chelsea Flower Show!! It's been packed but so good :)

But it's What I Ate Wednesday time. Each week I want to focus on a different nutrient, to show how important each and every one is, and why we need to eat a healthy diet (in content and volume) to ensure we meet our needed amounts.

Today I want to focus on potassium. Potassium is important for keeping the right mineral and fluid levels in the blood, without which our heart and nervous system wouldn't work so well.

Diets high in potassium are associated with:

- better blood pressure control

- kidney health

- better muscle contraction, including the heart

- stronger bones, particularly in older women

- lower risks of stroke

On the whole, if you eat your recommended amounts of fruit and veg you should be able to meet the recommended daily allowance of 4,700mg (5,100mg for breastfeeding women). However many of us don't eat the 5 (or more) recommended portions of fruit and veg, either due to poor diet or restricted eating, and anyone who sweats a lot (for example through exercise if you're like me) will lose potassium. In runners this may mean your muscles are not recovering as effectively if your potassium levels are low.

Potassium deficiency (or hypokalaemia) can cause weakness, muscle cramping, digestive issues, and fainting due to low blood pressure.

Bananas are traditionally seen as one of the richest potassium sources (one of the reasons they're a runner's favourite post-run fuel), containing 422mg per banana, however there are other foods that have even greater potassium doses:

Green leafy vegetables are your best source
- 1 cup of swiss chard = 960mg
- 1 cup of spinach = 840mg
- 1 cup of bok choy = 630mg

If green veg isn't your thing here are other great sources of potassium:
- 1 cup of cantaloupe melon = 427mg
- 1 cup of tomatoes = 426mg
- 1 cup carrots = 390mg

Alternatively pick up a coconut water. A normal small carton contains 740mg of potassium!

It's important that for potassium to do its job properly, you must make sure you're not having too much sodium, which processed food is often laden with. To keep things in check, make sure you're getting your potassium from natural sources like those above.

My breakfast today was a green smoothie which contained both banana and spinach so double the potassium loving! It also contained cherries, flaxseed and almond milk - it was the yummiest smoothie yet! I also had a frozen tahini-filled date which was exactly what I needed post-run.

Lunch was a bit snacky (I was panicking a bit as I was going out for dinner, and I hate not knowing what I'll be having or planning how many calories will be involved). Probably minimal potassium there.

Dinner ended up being at this amazing Italian restaurant, Sale e Pepe in Knightsbridge, with my boyfriend and his parents. The food was great, but the service was better. I have never seen waiters with so much energy and excitement, and they were constantly singing and bouncing around. I definitely recommend it! Pasta main dishes are averagely priced, but the other mains and starters are quite pricey, so it's more of a treat. I had asparagus to start (another good source of potassium at 403mg a cup) and then gnocchi in a tomato, basil and mozzarella sauce. Was hoping I'd be able to avoid the mozzarella but it was truly melted in the sauce. Tomatoes, however, another great source of potassium!

I was panicking a bit today about the calories, and whilst I can't be sure my dinner is accurate (I haven't included any oil of which I'm sure there was plenty...) I was surprised by the total. I feel incredibly stuffed! And I would say my potassium levels were pretty good today!

 Exercise today was a run this morning where I averaged a 6mph pace - so chuffed! I also totalled up over 14,000 steps just tootling around :)

 And to finish off, here are a few of  my fave pictures from the day :)

Clockwise: tartan garden!; a dress...made from flowers; anyone want to buy a T-Rex head made of shells?!; the Alan Titchmarsh garden "Over the hills...and far away".

Hope you all had lovely days!

E x


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