if you want more potassium, grab this instead

When I get leg cramps I tend to grab a banana, but there are more ways to get potassium than you may have realized.

Forget the sports drink after a hard work out – grab your fruits and vegetables.  They’re a much better source of the vitamins and minerals you need.

But, why is potassium important?

Potassium is a mineral that is found in most foods. It helps your body in several ways. Potassium helps to balance fluids and minerals in your body. It also helps your body maintain a normal blood pressure. Potassium helps your muscles contract and your nerves function normally.  http://www.drugs.com/cg/potassium-content-of-foods-list.html 

 There is also indication that increased fruit and potassium consumption is associated with stronger bones.  A diet rich in potassium may decrease the risk of stroke and kidney stones.   It can also help with keeping blood pressure down.

It’s recommended that an adequate intake of potassium for men and women, ages 19+ is 4,700 milligrams (mg), but with the average American diet, we’re not getting enough.  This doesn’t mean take a supplement, this means eat more fruits and vegetables that are good sources of potassium (unless your doctor has specifically told you to stay away from potassium rich foods).

Foods such as:

  • 1 cup cooked beans (more on dried beans)
    • white beans (1189 mg)woman shopping for vegetables
    • edamame (970 mg)
    • lima beans (707 mg)
  • 1 cup steamed greens
    • Swiss chard (961 mg)
    • spinach (839 mg)
    • beet greens (1300 mg)
  • 1 cup baked, cubed acorn squash (899 mg)
  • 1 medium baked potato with skin (751 mg)
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato with skin (542 mg)
  • 3 ounces of cooked halibut  (449 mg)
  • 1 medium banana (425 mg potassium)
  • 1/2 papaya (390 mg)
  • 3 ounces of baked or broiled salmon (319 mg)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (312 mg)
  • 1 medium raw tomato (290 mg)
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms (280 mg)
  • 1/4 of a medium avocado (245 mg)
  • 1 small orange (240 mg)

Various sites provided differing amounts of potassium in the foods above.  That’s okay since you’re not necessarily trying to add your potassium up to reach 4,700 milligrams exactly.  The goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Reach for these foods to get the vitamins and minerals you need to get and stay healthy & happy.  Also keep in mind, how you cook it is important.  Stay away from boiling.  Instead bake, broil, grill or lightly steam them.  Of course, some you won’t even need to cook.

Here are the sources I used for my list:

Huffington Post – Foods With More Potassium Than a Banana

Drugs.com – Potassium Content of Foods List

WebMD – Are You Getting Enough Potassium?

Get the Facts_ Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines - Sodium_Dietary_Guidelines

When you find information about potassium there is usually a link to information on sodium.  If you’re  interested in learning more about salt in your diet?  Check out the CDC’s Get the Facts –  Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines.




What potassium rich foods will you reach for this week?


Organizing Ideas for Getting Your Potassium

Make a meal plan this week around the foods listed above.

Put 5-7 of the foods listed above on your shopping list now.  If you don’t have a shopping list, start one.  You can use:

  • sticky note on your refrigerator – Your family as well as you can add to it, and you can grab it when you’re headed out the door to go shopping.
  • white board on your refrigerator –  Again you and your family can add to it, then you can take a picture of it before you head out.
  • there’s an app for that.  I use ShopShop which allows me to email or text or share with another app user.
  • if you’re using a meal planning app or program, there’s probably a shopping list feature built in.  Use it!
  • join the Paperwork Party on Saturday (May 30th) and make the time to finally create that master shopping list you’ve been meaning to.  Click here to register.
  • What do you use for a shopping list?

Pre-cut, -chop, -wash, and prepare several snacks from the foods above.  You’re more likely to reach for the healthier snack if it’s ready to eat.  If you have to fix it, it’s probably too late.

back to basics

This week it’s back to basics for me.

  • Fruits & veggies – Whether I focus on eating a rainbow or plan to have one fruit and/or veggie at EVERY meal, I will eat more fruits & veggies.
  • Water – Drinking my six 8-ounce glasses of water.  Thanks, Stacey, for the great tip that it’s easier to get more water in if you drink through a straw.  I went out and bought one of these Aladdin tumblers and it works.
  • Activity Log sheetTracking – I need (and want) to find a tracker that works for me.  Some people love their tracking app, but for me, it takes too much time to find afood listing that is close enough to what I’m about to eat.  Paper works best, but I haven’t found an option I like.  This week, I will be looking again.  Meanwhile, I’ll use the activity log that helped me change it up.
  • Put ME back on my own to-do list – Over the last couple of months, I’ve been pushing me off my own to-do list.  This week I’m scheduling some time with friends and maybe (just maybe) some time watching the ocean waves.


What habit is basic to your health?

Check It Out

think outside the produce box

Take your fruit and veggies out of the produce drawers and put them at eye level.

I’ve been stocking my own refrigerator for 20-plus years now and I had one of those EUREKA! moments awhile back.  I was again faced with the fact that the fruit in my fruit drawer and the vegetables in my veggie drawer were going bad because it was out of sight out of mind.  I’m always trying to come up with ways that I can increase my fruit consumption, because as you may have gathered by now, eating my fruit is a challenge.

Then it hit me; I’ve been putting my fruit in the fruit drawer my whole life because someone else told me to (and the cute little picture of grapes on the front).  But not any more–I’m switching  my refrigerator around.  The fruits and vegetables are going in see-through containers on the shelf at eye level.  The bread and lunch meats are going in one drawer.  Believe me, I will never forget where the bread is.  The other drawer will be used to create a snack drawer.

Yes, the reason for the drawers are to control humidity, but for me “out of sight, out of mind” is a bigger issue than anything else.  So the fruits and veggies are now out and visible.

PS — if you’ve already thought outside the produce box, why didn’t you tell me that 20 years ago?  I might have been eating my fruits all this time.

Will you rearrange your refrigerator to make it easier to eat healthier?

Change is easier with support.  Call me if you want change.

Check It Out

I recommend clear baskets to organize your refrigerator to ensure you see what you have and to make it easier to maintain order.

 I prefer the bins and containers from Interdesign.  I’ve found them at my local Ace Hardware or Amazon.




What do you keep at eye level or out & visible?  Leave a comment and share your tips.

think fruit

Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. ~ Jamie Paolinetti


For some of you, fruit is an easy addition to your day — excellent!  Keep going.

For others (that would include me), fruit is harder to add to your day.  But here are some creative ways to get your fruit servings in:


  • Make hash browns out of green papaya.
  • Make your own fruit salad.  Mix apples, bananas, pears, grapes, etc, with acidic fruit like oranges, pineapple or lemon juice to keep it from turning brown.
  • Use applesauce as a fat-free substitute in recipes.
  • Add canned pumpkin to a spice cake mix to make cupcakes.
  • Stock fruit cups in your pantry for desserts and snacks.  Make sure they are packed in water, fruit juice, or light syrup.  Read the nutrition label and the list of ingredients.   Some fruit packed in fruit juice has as many calories as  light syrup but different ingredients.  Fruit packed in water is lower in calories but may be sweetened by sugar substitutes like sorbitol and sucralose.
  • Change the temperature — if you like ’em cold – put them in the freezer (great for grapes).  If you like your fruit warm – microwave it (but not for too long!).
  • Pick your own.  Check for local farms that allow you to pick your own fruit.
  • Grow your own if you can.  This takes a few years longer, but it’s wonderfully satisfying.
How creative will you be with your fruit?

How much fruit are we supposed to eat?

  • According to the USDA – it depends on your age and gender.  Girls 9 – 18 years old and women over 30 should get 1.5 cups (what we used to think of as 3 servings), women 19 – 30 and men over the age of 19 should have 2 cups (4 servings).  Check out www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/fruits-amount.html for more information.

Information on selection, storage and nutrition benefits of different fruits:

Some good resources to help you pick produce


with every one

I’m keeping it simple this week.  I’m building the habit of having fruit or veggies with EVERY meal and snack.

If this means I get to have 2 tablespoons of hot fudge sauce with my banana as an evening snack, excellent.  If this means buying the individual servings of unsweetened applesauce to take to work, consider it done.  If this means grilling vegetables for tomorrow’s spaghetti sauce, great! (thanks Steve)

You’ve heard about eating 5 servings of fruits & veggies but may have wondered how much a serving is.  Check out my lists of fruit & vegetable servings.

Will you eat a fruit or a vegetable with EVERY meal or snack this week?


Want to know how many calories or grams of sodium are in your favorite local snack?  Check out the Hawai’i Foods Local Snack Food list.

Fruits & Veggies-More Matters® offers information on selecting, storing and preparing fruits & vegetables along with nutritional information.

Hawaii Seasonality Chart for locally grown fruits & vegetables

eat a rainbow

Have you eaten a rainbow lately? I’m talking about a rainbow of fruits & vegetables.

I’ve written about increasing my fruits & vegetables several times, and I’m going to keep writing about it because eating my fruit is still a challenge for me. I know I should eat 5 servings of fruits & vegetables. I know that I should eat more fruits & vegetables.  I know that fruits & vegetables contain minerals, vitamins, fiber and lots of other good stuff for me. But just because I know something doesn’t mean I do that something. So I’m always trying new ways to accomplish old goals.

Fruits & veggies come in a wide variety of colors – just like a rainbow!

Red apples, beets, tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranates, cherries, apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, tangerines, papayas, squash, starfruit, sweet corn, yellow summer squash, pineapple, pears, green grapes, honeydew, asparagus, kiwi, arugula, avocados,  blackberries, eggplant, figs, plums, purple sweet potatoes, raisins, jicama, bananas, onions, cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes

I think focusing on eating a rainbow may help me, since it brings a bit more fun into the game. Counting is okay, but trying to eat the different colors in fruits & veggies is more visual and interactive for me. So this week I’m focusing on eating a rainbow.

Will you eat a rainbow this week?

originally posted 2009.29