If you're experiencing rapid growth, are childbearing, or engage in regular intense exercise, you may be at increased risk of iron deficiency. Also, the Linus Pauling Institute says the modern diet in general is deficient in potassium. Lack of iron and potassium impairs the blood's ability to carry oxygen and to conduct electrical charges between cells, leading to fatigue and poor muscular coordination. Though both iron and potassium supplements can be taken to correct extreme deficiencies, there's growing evidence that better nutrition comes from food sources.
Three ounces of canned clams contain 23.8mg iron and 534mg potassium. According to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, that's well over the recommended 18mg iron daily intake and more than 10 percent of the recommended 4,700 mg daily intake for potassium. Make a simple sauce with clams in their juice, tomato paste--also high in potassium--and garlic, and serve over whole wheat pasta.
A half cup of canned white beans contains 3.9mg iron and 595mg potassium. Though iron and particularly heme iron is more available from meat, fish, and poultry, certain beans can provide more than 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron per serving; and in general, fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium. Serve white beans with chopped tomatoes over toast, or saute with any dark leafy greens for a powerhouse side dish.
A half cup of cooked spinach contains between 2.0mg and 3.6mg of iron and between 370mg and 419mg of potassium. Like all sources of non-heme iron, spinach is best consumed with nutrients that enhance the absorption of iron in this less readily available form. Vitamin C in particular enhances non-heme iron absorption, says Jane Higdon, Ph.D., of the Linus Pauling Institute.
A half-cup of cooked green soybeans, also known as edamame, contains 2.3mg of iron and 485mg of potassium. Less widely available, cooked mature soybeans contain 4.4mg of iron and 443mg of potassium. Soy proteins, however, have been shown to inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
A half cup of cooked lima beans contains 2.3mg of iron and 478mg of potassium. Lima beans, corn, and tomatoes are the main ingredients in the familiar side dish known as succotash.
A half cup of cooked kidney beans contains 2.0mg of iron and 358mg of potassium. Put kidney beans in a chili with tomatoes and hot peppers--both high in Vitamin C--to improve iron absorption. Adding beef, chicken, or turkey to your chili will add iron and also will improve the absorption of iron from the beans.
A small baked potato with its skin on contains 1.9mg iron and 738mg potassium, more than 15 percent of the recommended daily intake of potassium. Top with lowfat or nonfat yogurt for an additional potassium boost.
- "Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010"; United States Department of Agriculture; June 2010
- "Iron"; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; August 2009
- "Potassium"; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; February 2004
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sodium and Potassium