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Harnessing potassium is key for staying strong

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POSTED: February 21, 2013 7:30 p.m.
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Lima beans are a great source for potassium.

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Science long has known that potassium is needed for muscle control.
In recent studies done at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, researchers found that including potassium-rich fruits and vegetables in our diets has beneficial effects on muscle. More specifically, older adults need potassium-rich fruits and vegetables that produce an alkaline rather than an acidic residue. Many of the foods we eat produce acidic residues in our bodies. With aging, many Americans slowly build up these small acid residues, resulting in mild acidosis. This condition seems to “trigger a muscle-wasting response,” according to the researchers.
But the process, they say, might be counteracted by eating alkaline-producing plant foods high in potassium. Their research showed that subjects “whose diets were rich in potassium averaged 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass (or muscle) than those with only half the potassium intake. That almost offsets the 4.4 pounds of lean tissue typically lost in a decade in healthy men and women age 65 and above.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that older adults get at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily.
Try this recipe to add a healthy and tasty punch of potassium to your diet.  

Creole lima beans with sausage
Feel free to try other types of link sausage in this recipe, including chicken, Italian or beef, or leave out the meat for a vegetarian side dish.   
1 (16-ounce) package Andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes, with juice, crushed
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 rib celery, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
1 (16-ounce) package frozen baby lima beans
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
Using a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onion for two to three minutes to soften. Add in the tomatoes and any juices. Use a potato masher or fork to break the tomatoes into large pieces. Add in the sausage, garlic, celery, salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and brown sugar or honey. Cook, stirring occasionally, for four to five minutes.  Add lima beans and water or broth to skillet. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for eight to 10 minutes, until beans are tender. Serves six.  
(Additional information provided by Janet Hackert, nutrition and health education specialist in Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension.)  

Medearis is an author of seven cookbooks. Her website is www.divapro.com.
Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva!, on Facebook and go to Hulu.com.

 

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