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Fiber & Potassium

Are you eating enough vegetables?  Vegetables are very important to our overall health, as well as weight loss efforts. They help reduce the risk for many chronic diseases, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease and certain cancers. In one recent study, eating just over one extra serving of leafy greens a day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent.

Part of this benefit is due to the fiber content. Research has demonstrated that fiber has appetite-suppressant qualities that helps you feel more satiated, and reducing unhealthy snacking. Fiber helps keep you full longer, especially if paired with a protein or a healthy fat, which can help in weight loss efforts.  In fact, a recent study found that people who made no changes to their diet except eating more fiber lost almost as much weight as people who followed the heart-healthy, low-fat eating plan recommended by the American Heart Association.  Fiber can also prevent energy dips.  If you’re eating enough veggies and other high-fiber foods, you will notice that you are less likely to get the afternoon sugar cravings that often occur if your diet consists of too many processed carbs.

Eating plentiful produce is also important because it provides us with potassium. A new study showed that eating more potassium is associated with lower blood pressure, even without cutting back on salt. The study authors explain that while decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure, evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension. An Institute of Medicine report recommends that adults consume at least 4700 milligrams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of dietary sodium, and reduce the risks of kidney stones and bone loss. Some fruit and vegetables that are high in potassium to include in your healthy diet:

  • Winter squash, cubed, 1 cup, cooked: 896 mg
  • Sweet potato, medium, baked with skin: 694 mg
  • Potato, medium, baked with skin: 610 mg
  • Broccoli, 1 cup, cooked: 457 mg
  • Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup: 431 mg
  • Banana, 1 medium: 422 mg

Bonus tip: Boiling depletes potassium. For example, a boiled potato has almost half the potassium of a baked potato. To preserve potassium, eat fruits and vegetables raw, or roast or lightly steam them.

Working more vegetables into your day can be a good way to maintain a healthy weight, or work towards a weight loss goal. However, it can be very difficult to lose a substantial amount of weight – and keep it off – with diet alone. If you’d like to learn more about surgical and non-surgical treatments for weight loss, click here.

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