Take a look around your kitchen. Is your fridge filled with piles of fresh fruits and veggies, along with some lean proteins and whole grains? Or is your pantry packed full of chips, cookies, and other over-processed carbs and simple sugars? If you answered yes to the latter, you’re not alone. The Department of Health and Human Services has found the average American diet is lacking in several powerful nutrients, all of which play key roles in your overall health. Ready to say goodbye to Chips Ahoy and Cheetos and wave hello to apples and oranges? Here are the 5 important nutrients you could be missing.
According to Greatist, the recommended daily potassium intake for adults is 4,700 milligrams, but only 56 percent of American adults are getting that much. The problem lies with sodium, which weasels its way into processed foods, replacing potassium in the process. If a good part of your diet is dedicated to processed meats, fast food, and pastries, you probably aren’t getting as much potassium as you should be.
Wondering what the big deal is? Potassium is crucial; your body needs it to keep your organs working properly. Web MD writes that it is necessary for your heart, kidneys, and other organs to work normally. Your body also needs potassium to help regulate water balance and keep your nervous system and muscles functioning the way they should be. On the less serious side of the spectrum, not consuming enough potassium can result in muscle cramps, constipation, and fatigue. On the extremely serious side, low potassium has been linked to a risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and infertility.
Luckily, there are plenty of foods that will quickly provide you with the potassium you need. Web MD recommends bananas, avocados, nuts (almonds and peanuts), citrus fruits, leafy, green vegetables, milk, and potatoes. Something to keep in mind: Some types of cooking, such as boiling, can destroy most of the potassium in food.