Introducing Potassium

Fundamental Mineral for Human Function

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It is not an exaggeration to say that potassium literally keeps us alive! It is the body’s principal positively charged ion (cation) inside our cells and thus is essential for maintenance of normal fluid and electrolyte balance, enzyme reactions, cell integrity, and muscle contraction. Potassium and sodium are pumped across the cell membrane, a process that drives nerve impulse transmission.

The potassium found in natural, unprocessed foods is often linked to an organic anion (e.g. citrate). Organic anions play an important role in buffering the acids produced by the body in metabolizing meats or protein-rich foods. These acids can demineralize the bone and increase the risk of kidney stones.

The Primary Sources of Potassium

Fruits and vegetables, especially vine fruits such as tomato, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, and leafy greens and root vegetables are important sources of potassium along with grains, meats, and legumes.

Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Potassium

Moderate potassium deficiency is linked to increases in blood pressure, increased risk of kidney stones, bone demineralization, and stroke. Certain types of diuretics (e.g., thiazide diuretics or furosemide), alcoholism, severe vomiting or diarrhea, overuse or abuse of laxatives, anorexia nervosa or bulimia, magnesium depletion, and congestive heart failure (CHF) are associated with a higher risk for potassium deficiency. Potassium toxicity does not result from overeating foods high in potassium but can result from overconsumption of potassium salts or supplements (including some protein shakes and energy drinks) and from certain diseases or treatments.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate potassium into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Aubergine/Eggplant and Tomato Curry*

Ingredients

600g baby aubergines, sliced into rounds
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
400ml can chopped tomatoes
400ml can coconut milk
pinch of sugar
½ small pack coriander, roughly chopped
rice or chapatis, to serve

Method

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the aubergines in a roasting tin with 2 tbsp olive oil, season well and spread out. Roast for 20 mins or until dark golden and soft.

Heat the remaining oil in an ovenproof pan or flameproof casserole dish and cook the onions over a medium heat for 5-6 mins until softening. Stir in the garlic and spices, for a few mins until the spices release their aromas.

Tip in the tomatoes, coconut milk and roasted aubergines, and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20-25 mins, removing the lid for the final 5 mins to thicken the sauce. Add a little seasoning if you like, and a pinch of sugar if it needs it. Stir through most of the coriander. Serve over rice or with chapatis, scattering with the remaining coriander.

*Adapted from BBC Good Food 

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Introducing Magnesium

A Base for Healthy Bones, Muscles and Forming Energy

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Did you know that it’s not only calcium that has a vital role in bone health…magnesium is also a key player! More than half the body’s magnesium is found in the bones, where it helps in the development and maintenance of bone. Much of the rest of the mineral is found in the muscles and soft tissues, with only 1% in the extracellular fluid. Bone magnesium serves as a reservoir for magnesium to ensure normal magnesium blood concentrations.

Magnesium is involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions such as synthesis of our genetic material (DNA/RNA) and proteins, in cell growth and reproduction, and in energy production and storage. Magnesium is important for the formation of the body’s main energy compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Our cells need ATP for all their processes.

The Primary Sources of Magnesium

Nuts, legumes, whole grains, dark green vegetables, and seafood.

Bioavailability of Magnesium

Magnesium absorption will decrease in diets with low intakes of protein. As with calcium, foods high in fiber that contain phytic acid will also decrease absorption of magnesium.

Risks Related to Inadequate or Excess Intake of Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency in healthy individuals who are consuming a balanced diet is quite rare because magnesium is abundant in both plant and animal foods and the kidneys are able to limit urinary excretion of magnesium when intake is low. Severe magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia) can impede vitamin D and calcium homeostasis. Certain individuals are more susceptible to magnesium deficiency, especially those with gastrointestinal or renal disorders, those suffering from chronic alcoholism, and older people. Magnesium toxicity is rare. The upper limit of magnesium can only be exceeded with non-food sources such as supplements or magnesium salts.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate magnesium into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Nut Roast

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
15g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and finely diced
1 large carrot, grated
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
100g red lentils
2 tbsp tomato purée
300ml vegetable stock
100g fresh breadcrumbs
150g mixed nuts such as walnuts, peacans, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
3 large eggs
100g mature cheddar, grated
handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the tomato sauce
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 sprig rosemary
400ml passata

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas 4. Line the base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with parchment paper.

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and cook the onion and celery for about 5 mins until beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 10 mins.

Stir in the red pepper and grated carrot and cook for about 3 mins then add the oregano and paprika and cook for just a minute.

Add the red lentils and tomato purée and cook for about 1 min, then add the vegetable stock and simmer over a very gentle heat until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is fairly dry. This should take about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Finally, stir in the breadcrumbs, nuts, eggs, cheese and parsley and a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Stir to mix well then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press down the surface. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins, then remove the foil and bake for a further 20 mins until firm when pressed gently.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the oil very gently then add the garlic slices and rosemary sprig and heat without colouring. Pour in the passata and add a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Simmer gently for just 15 mins.

Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for about 10 mins then turn out onto a serving board or plate. Remove the baking paper and cut into slices and serve with a little of the tomato sauce.

To make a vegan nut roast, use an extra tbsp of oil in place of butter and 3 tbsp egg replacer. Bake your nut roast for 1 hour. The loaf will still be soft in the middle after cooking. It can be cooked in advance and then chilled, sliced and reheated to make it easier to serve. 

*Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

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