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Potassium-Packed Produce vs. Diabetic Complications

Dietary Potassium May Lower Risk of Heart and Kidney Disease 

It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are good for you. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, fresh produce is a tasty package of nutrition for not a lot of calories. Fruits and vegetables are among the best sources of potassium, an essential nutrient that may be particularly beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes, says a 2015 study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Japanese researchers monitored 623 patients with type 2 diabetes for about 11 years. At the beginning of the study, participants provided blood and urine samples, which were used to measure potassium excretion, a marker of how much potassium is in the diet. By the end of the study period, participants who had the highest potassium measurements at baseline had 67% less risk of cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death, which are all complications of type 2 diabetes, compared with those with the lowest potassium measurements. 

Results suggest that a potassium-rich diet may help protect heart and kidney health in patients with type 2 diabetes. This benefit may come from potassium’s role in blood pressure control. Potassium-packed fruits and vegetables also contain phytochemicals, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and could also be influencers at play. 

No matter the case, fresh fruits and vegetables are just what the doctor ordered. Replacing less healthy foods in your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is a winning strategy for getting the vital nutrients your body needs and for managing weight, another important factor in diabetes control. 

Spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, kiwi and bananas (yes, people with diabetes can enjoy bananas and other fruits) are top sources of potassium. Other foods include beans, salmon, quinoa, and almonds. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at meals and aim to include at least 3,500 mg potassium in your diet each day, which can easily be done with this suggested menu. For a quick potassium-packed snack, make our Oven Baked Banana Fries with Creamy Avocado Dip.

Published April 1, 2016

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