The body must have the minerals zinc and potassium in order to carry out a myriad of functions. Zinc makes up part of multiple metabolism enzymes, helps to protect cells against free radical attack, and aids the immune system. Perception of taste, sperm production, proper healing of wounds, production of active vitamin A for vision, and insulin storage, release and production all are affected by zinc. The Recommended Daily Allowance of zinc for adults is 11mg per day.
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The body holds approximately two times as much potassium as it does sodium to maintain proper fluid balance between cells and interstitial space (space between cells). The Average Intake (AI) of potassium for adults as determined by the National Academies of Sciences is 4,500mg per day. Potassium AI is higher than any other mineral, with chloride a distant second at 2,300mg per day. Potassium also plays roles in nerve impulses, muscle contractions, heartbeat, cell integrity and is the facilitator of many chemical reactions. Most natural foods have some zinc and potassium, but foods high in zinc and potassium are found in meat, legume and grain food groups.
Meat provides the body with essential amino acids needed to grow and development of new cells, as well as carrying out a vast number of chemical reactions. Meats also contain high amounts of other minerals, vitamins and essential fats. Meats high in zinc and potassium include red meat (beef, buffalo, elk, lamb, veal), octopus, clams, crab, lobster, oysters, pork and poultry (chicken, duck, goose and turkey).
Legumes aren’t as rich a source of potassium and zinc as most meats. However, they contain amino acids, fiber, vitamins and other minerals, making them a healthy addition to any nutrition plan. Legumes high in zinc and potassium include adzuki beans, garbanzo beans, great northern beans, canned refried beans, soybeans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans and lentils.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming six to eight servings of grains a day to maintain a healthy body weight, with at least half of the foods being whole-grain foods. Grains contain fiber, vitamins and minerals all essential to life and health. Most grains provide high amounts of potassium and zinc. Foods that are especially rich in these minerals include foods made with barley, cracked wheat, whole grain buckwheat, bulgar, soy flour, wheat bran, whole wheat, wheat germ, amaranth and quinoa.
Some foods that aren't in the meat, legume or grain food groups that have high amounts of potassium and zinc include part skim ricotta, milk, yogurt, avocados, dried figs, almonds, Brazil nuts, oil roasted cashews, coconut, dry roasted pistachios and roasted pumpkin kernels.