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Your Body is Awesome: Potassium Addition

In high school I had a terrifying drama teacher.  Every time I had to go to class my stomach was in knots.  Considering I had drama class four times a week, this became rather unpleasant.  A friend recommended that I eat a banana before class to calm my nerves.  The first time she did so I pulled out a banana—which I happened to have on hand—and scarfed it down so that I wouldn’t be late to class.  Whether or not it actually helped in the moment, I’m not sure.  But it turns out that bananas, by virtue of their high potassium content, can help with anxiety.  Inspired by 9th grade Drama I, I present the many benefits of potassium:

What is it?

Potassium is an important mineral for multiple bodily functions.  It helps build both proteins and muscle, and helps your body break down carbohydrates, which give you energy. Bread and pasta are good for something—they just need a little help along the way.  This mineral also counteracts some of the negative affects of sodium, helping to maintain blood pressure, and also helps maintain a mineral balance in the body.  Low levels of potassium can also caused increased anxiety, so adding more to your diet may make the semester a bit smoother.

How much do I need?

Most adults need about 4.7 grams of potassium a day.  It’s estimated that most of us probably get about half of that right now.

How do I get it?

Not to worry, though—potassium may be lacking in many of our diets, but it is not hard to come by.  Many fruits and vegetables contain a good amount of potassium, as well as dairy products and some meats.  Bananas are very often associated with potassium, and for good reason as a medium banana has about 450 mg of potassium.  A peanut butter and sliced banana sandwich drizzled with honey is not only extremely comforting but also packed with nutrients.  A cup of spinach and a baked potato both pack over 800 mg of potassium, so either of these will quickly get you closer to the daily goal.  Interestingly, some fruits, such as apricots, have more potassium when sun-dried than when fresh.  In honor of potassium and Jack Johnson, here’s a recipe for banana pancakes to try:

 

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flower

1 tbsp. white sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 ripe bananas, mashed

 

Instructions:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil, and bananas
  2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  Pour or scoop batter onto the griddle.  Cook each pancake until golden brown on both sides.

 

Makes approx. 12 pancakes.  Adapted from allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/banana-pancakes-i/)

 

Sources: eatright.org, nlm.nih.gov

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